Detecting movement risks for rail infrastructure and supporting assets for service continuity.

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Del Mar Bluffs Rail Track Instability

Date: Ongoing

Location: California, United States


A 1.7-mile section of the second busiest passenger rail corridor in the United States lies on fragile coastal bluffs at Del Mar, north of San Diego. Since summer 2018, eight surface slides on the face of the bluffs have been reported, each time halting train traffic to verify that the track is safe. The bluffs experience constant erosion, and the track owner invests heavily to protect the infrastructure. New stabilisation works worth $78 million began in 2024.

Value.Space’s assessment

Value.Space conducted a satellite-based deformation survey of the track corridor on Del Mar Bluffs for the period between January 2021 and January 2024, showing continued presence of ground movement. The analysis identifies 17 different existing or developing movement clusters at or next to the tracks, which can inform on-site remedial works to reduce rail traffic interruptions.


Nuneham Rail Viaduct Movement Damage

Date: 3 April 2023

Location: Oxfordshire, United Kingdom


The UK rail infrastructure manager, Network Rail, suspended rail traffic on a busy mainline after detecting significant movement on the 160-year-old Nuneham rail viaduct. Issues were identified with the viaduct’s south bank abutment, the structure supporting the bridge. Major emergency repair works were undertaken to renew the viaduct structure, with about 800 workers contributing 60,000 hours.

Value.Space’s assessment

Value.Space’s satellite-based survey of the Nuneham rail viaduct revealed a significant movement cluster on the south end of the bridge, which became notably different from the previous pattern in January 2021, more than two years before the event. Based on the data timeline of the movement cluster, a significant movement warning would have been issued in February 2022, more than a year before the event.


Scarborough Landslide Damage to Rail Track

Date: 21 October 2023

Location: New York, United States


A landslide in Scarborough, Westchester County, blocked rail tracks on the Hudson Line of Metro-North railroad, leading to both local commuter and Amtrak service disruption on the busy rail line. 900 tons of soil, rock, and cement walls had to be cleared before stabilising the slope where the landslide occurred. A section of the rail track had to be rebuilt due to the damage.

Value.Space’s assessment

Value.Space’s satellite-based movement survey identified a movement cluster on the slope above the tracks at the exact location of the eventual landslide. Satellite-based assessment would have identified the movement typical of a developing landslide up to 12 months before the event.

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