Railway Infrastructure Classification and Instability Identification Using Sentinel-1 SAR and Laser Scanning Data

Ling Chang*, Nikhil Sakpal, S.J. Oude Elberink, Haoyu Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) techniques have been successfully applied for structural health monitoring of line-infrastructure such as railway. Limited by meter-level spatial resolution of Sentinel-1 satellite radar (SAR) imagery and meter-level geolocation precision, it is still challenging to (1) categorize radar scatterers (e.g., persistent scatterers (PS)) and associate radar scatterers with actual objects along railways, and (2) identify unstable railway segments using InSAR Line of Sight (LOS) deformation time series from a single viewing geometry. In response to this, (1) we assess and improve the 3-D geolocation quality of Sentinel-1 derived PS using a 2-step method for PS 3-D geolocation improvement aided by laser scanning data; after geolocation improvement, we step-wisely classify railway infrastructure into rails, embankments and surroundings; (2) we recognize unstable rail segments by utilizing the (localized) differential settlement of rails in the normal direction (near vertical) which is yielded from the LOS deformation decomposition. We tested and evaluated the methods using 170 Sentinel-1a/b ascending data acquired between January 2017 and December 2019, over the Betuwe freight train track, in the Netherlands. The results show that 98% PS were associated with real objects with a significance level of 25%, the PS settlement measurements were generally in line with the in-situ track survey Rail Infrastructure aLignment Acquisition (RILA) measurements, and the standard deviations of the PS settlement measurements varied slightly with an average value of 6.16 mm. View Full-Text
Original languageEnglish
Article number7108
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2020


  • Railway infrastructure
  • Sentinel-1
  • SAR
  • Structural health
  • Settlement


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