Civil engineers from The University of Nottingham
are helping to develop the railway track of the future which will be cheaper
and quieter, last longer and be lower maintenance for rail network operators.
The £8.5m research programme links four universities (Nottingham,
Southampton, Birmingham and Huddersfield) with industry partners including
Network Rail to address the challenges of future railway infrastructure.
The programme is called Track to the Future (T2F)
and will run for five years from June 1 2015. It is funded primarily by a £5.2m Programme Grant
from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with the
remainder coming through industry support and from the partner Universities.
Rail track challenges
Track to the Future will address some of the
completely new questions being asked as we push expectations of railway
infrastructure performance to the limit. Railway track is being used more
intensively as the frequency and speed of trains continue to increase. The time available for maintenance is decreasing and pressure is growing
to reduce cost and environmental impacts, including noise and vibration. At the
same time, climate change is imposing new pressures on old infrastructure,
sometimes with major impacts on exposed coastal railways and vulnerable
T2F aims to help infrastructure operators and
owners develop low-maintenance, low-noise track to underpin the continued
increase in train frequencies, speeds and operating hours.
Professor Glenn McDowell, Head of The University of
Nottingham’s Department of Civil Engineering, said: “These are exciting times
for the railway industry. We have a real opportunity to use advanced
numerical modelling and experimental techniques to devise novel
interventions that will lead to ballasted track requiring little or no
maintenance. The potential financial savings are huge and ultimately the
public will benefit from much improved track ride quality and a superior
Professor William Powrie, from the University of
Southampton and lead academic on T2F, said: “We are addressing these key
challenges through state-of-the-art experimental and analytical
techniques, and the integration of advanced behavioural models in the areas of
geomechanics, track systems, vehicle dynamics, noise and vibration.
“By extending our scientific knowledge and
developing new analytical tools, we will make it possible for engineers to
design railway track systems that give longer, more reliable service at much
Track to the future
The key research challenges that T2F will address
are to develop low-maintenance, long-life track systems with optimised material
use; to design crossings and transitions that improve vehicle behaviour through
them and reduce damage; and to design and develop low-noise, low-vibration
The programme will be carried out in collaboration
with industry and benefit from complementary research activities, including
Strategic University Partnerships between Network Rail and the universities of
Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham, and between Rail Safety & Standard
Board (RSSB)and Huddersfield; engagement of the university partners in
FutureRailway and Shift2Rail and other publicly-funded railway infrastructure
research; and facilities in the new National Infrastructure Laboratory on the
Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, as part of the UK Collaboratorium for
Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UK-CRIC).
More detail can be found on the Track to the Future
website, www.t2f.org.uk and you can follow
on Twitter at http://twitter.com/railresearch.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the THE Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top one per cent of universities by the QS World University Rankings, and 8th in the UK by research power according to REF 2014.
The University of Nottingham in Malaysia (UNMC) is holding events throughout 2015 to celebrate 15 years as a pioneer of transnational education. Based in Semenyih, UNMC was established as the UK's first overseas campus in Malaysia and one of the first world-wide.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…