Accessibility Tools

The Power of 3D Laser Scan to BIM for Asset Management in Rail

Tom O'Malley, Design Services Technician


The UK’s passenger rail users are set to almost double between now and 2050 according to Steer. With this rapid level of projected growth, we predict our train stations will be pushed to the seams, spurring the need for further maintenance and improvement of all facilities and amenities as demand rises.

Currently, the UK has over 2,500 train stations each with its respective platforms, signal boxes, shops, cafes, waiting shelters, toilets, parking… you get it. Now, envision a future where every station is equipped with its own precise digital 3D model – a comprehensive representation that encompasses every detail, measurement, and feature of the station.

The Benefits

These 3D models also known as digital twins, revolutionise the management of train stations in several ways:

  • Accessibility: Passengers with accessibility issues can virtually familiarise themselves with a station before traveling allowing them to preview accessible routes and facilities giving passengers more confidence to travel.
  • Accurate Planning and Design: Operators can visualise proposed changes or expansions within the existing infrastructure. This level of detail more easily facilitates the integration of new elements and optimal space utilisation.
  • Real-Time Insights: By providing real-time insights into building and infrastructure conditions, digital twins enable proactive maintenance and repair strategies. Operators can identify issues promptly, address them efficiently, and minimise disruptions to services.
  • Streamlined Safety Protocols: Through comprehensive visualisations of station layouts and emergency procedures, operators can assess potential hazards, implement preventive measures, and enhance safety standards for passengers and staff.
  • Informed Decision-Making: Operators can analyse data trends, predict future needs, and allocate resources effectively, ensuring sustainable growth and development of train stations.

In Practice

Alongside these benefits, the scanning process is unintrusive and highly adaptable. We recently scanned Lancaster train station, supporting Avanti on a listed building consent application. For this job we scanned the station, tagging various assets that required new paintwork. The site was entirely accessible using a virtual walk-through created after the scan.

Lancaster’s model can now be re-used for future development and will help avoid any unnecessary site visits.

Empowering Rail Operators

In essence, 3D laser scan to BIM technology empowers rail operators to navigate the challenges posed by the impending rapid growth and development of their industry. As the rail industry prepares for the future, 3D laser scan to BIM technology could emerge as a cornerstone of modern asset management in rail and industries beyond, enabling operators to meet evolving demands without affecting the passenger experience.

For more information on how Tom and his team can support your next project, please contact him on