In parts of the US, railroad lines run through areas subject to rocks falling from deep cuttings. The falling rocks can sit on the track causing a major hazard to trains. Traditional monitoring methods are inaccurate and labor intensive. L.B. Foster is solving this with our LIDAR technology. 

Rocks on the Line

Rockfall monitoring with a LIDAR optical fence solves the challenge of safeguarding against rock debris on the line. Conventional rockfall monitors use wires across the top of the track that break when a rock falls through them. The problem with this technology is that it does not indicate if the rock has ended up on the track or rolled off, plus it requires engineers to re-string the monitors each time they break.

With the Rockfall Monitoring system, if a rock of sufficient size to pose a threat to a train is detected on the track, LIDAR technology remotely alerts controllers about the size and location of the obstruction, without an engineer ever needing to visit site and re-string a wire detector.

These small, inexpensive sensors have the potential to be used over hundreds of miles of susceptible track, in the same way that the rockfall LIDAR can monitor hundreds of miles of cuttings and rock faces adjacent to train lines.


The LIDAR system provides a method of detecting obstacles on the track itself, to enable the need to send an engineer to a sometimes remote site. Currently, trains are delayed at signal while this happens, delaying both their shipments and those of the following trains, incurring costs along the way. The Rockfall LIDAR system optimizes both detection of hazardous obstacles on track as well as the journey of trains through rockfall prone territories.

  • No heavy construction equipment required to install

  • Continues to detect after an alarm

  • Differenciates between object size

  • Event recording capable

  • An alarm doesn’t require expensive repairs

  • Low product life cycle lost


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