Using Time-Lapse: the rail industry

Our “using time-lapse” spotlight blogs take a closer look at how businesses big and small are utilising our full range of services.

The infrastructural nature of rail works requires careful planning and attention to detail; time-lapse is an ideal tool to isolate and bring out the best of such processes.

At Time-Lapse Systems, we have years of experience with various rail companies providing Ultra HD capture of vital projects up and down the country. As we focus on in this blog, our camera systems have been put to use in a myriad of contexts within this busy sector.

Whether long-term or short-term in duration, we provide professional coverage for established rail providers, which they can put to use in a variety of ways to suit their individual needs.


Project file #1 – Farnworth Tunnel (in collaboration with Aerial Images)

Location captured: Farnworth, Bolton
Capture duration: long-term
Client: Network Rail


A joint collaboration between Time-Lapse Systems and Aerial Images, this particular sequence is part of Network Rail’s initiative to keep the public updated on the progress of various upgrades and maintenance work across their lines.

Showing an electrical upgrade of Farnworth Tunnel, part of the Manchester to Preston route via Bolton, this edit includes computerised imagery detailing particular phases of development, as well as text descriptions, video and time-lapse.

Remote time-lapse was an essential component for this project; working externally can mean delicate conditions, and remote access to the time-lapse camera allows control over the image – regardless of changing weather and lighting sources – without the need to attend.

Network Rail utilised Britain’s largest tunnel boring machine to enlarge Farnworth Tunnel and we ensured that we captured their meticulous workings in detail despite sometimes challenging circumstances.


Owner and infrastructure managers for most of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales, projects for Network Rail can take a variety of forms.

In addition to working for Network Rail generally, our services have also been called upon to capture work on specific lines in London, such as the Crossrail project.


Project file #2 – Moorgate Station

Location captured: London
Capture duration: long-term
Client: Crossrail

Rooftop view of extensive rail works we captured for Crossrail, central London.
Above: extensive excavation and construction works for Crossrail at Moorgate Station.

The biggest civil construction project in Europe currently, Crossrail is building the Elizabeth line, which will link Reading and Heathrow in the west with Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Comprised of underground tunnels, as well as 100km of line above ground, this construction was commissioned by Transport for London in order to increase the capital’s rail capacity.

With these infrastructural works requiring remote site monitoring, our camera systems provided capture of the major excavation and construction developments at Moorgate Station – a particularly challenging environment to work in.

Specifically, these works included:

  • removal of deep foundations
  • construction of a concrete diaphragm wall
  • installation of new 60m piles
  • and excavation works for a main shaft.

    Using a crane and cage over the Moorgate Station project to access the camera system
    Above: challenging conditions – our engineers in a cage suspended from a crane over site at Moorgate.

The site was incredibly constrained due to its close proximity with Hammersmith and City Line stations, as well as the existing Moorgate Station ticket hall. Surrounded by other vital works, extensive operations had to be carried out in a limited amount of space.

For us, this meant thinking outside the box in order to provide a complete picture of developments taking place below ground level.

As it was not feasible for a cherry picker to access the site to assist our install onto a surrounding building, our engineers accessed the fixing position via a cage suspended from a crane.

Such positioning allowed us to provide Crossrail and their various stakeholders with an optimum view of works carried out on site, complete with access to our sophisticated online viewer throughout the duration of the project.


From long-term to more short-term turnarounds in the rail industry, time-lapse photography offers a multitude of benefits for projects relative to any size and scale.

As well as providing monitoring of activities on site, relaying consistent information to clients, stakeholders and other invested parties, a completed professional time-lapse video can also be an important asset to rail companies’ marketing campaigns and wider branding strategies.


Project file #3 – Bromsgrove blockade

Location captured: Bromsgrove Station
Capture duration: short-term
Client: VolkerRail

As well as working with Network Rail and Crossrail, we also have an established relationship with major rail contractor, VolkerRail, having worked with them on both long-term and short-term projects.

In October 2016, we provided external capture of their 12-day works at during a blockade near Bromsgrove. Although only short-term, these works were of great importance, seeing a platform promptly brought into effect.

In partnership with Network Rail and Siemens Rail Automation, works included track maintenance, rail installation, and 17,367 tonnes of new ballast laid down.

Our completed time-lapse video edit records a comprehensive view of these complex improvements. Utilising rapid interval capture, work carried out by both personnel and machinery is rendered with depth and consistency.

Our dedicated team of editors worked tirelessly to turn this edit around quickly so that VolkerRail could use the video to disseminate information to the public about these improvements, as well as developments that are yet to come as part of a wider, more elaborate rail scheme.

Time-lapse footage is seamlessly threaded together with information in text and audio form. Such an intertextual approach helps build the full narrative of these rail works that can be used strategically again and again by VolkerRail as part of their wider branding initiatives.


We have only spotlighted a handful of projects out of the many that we have captured in the rail sector alone. Our reach also spans a large proportion of other infrastructural works, such as road, bridges, hospitals, energy & utility builds.

We pride ourselves on providing all of our clients with industry-leading time-lapse solutions.

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