Digital Railway Energy and Operation Systems for Decarbonisation

   Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering

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  Dr Zhongbei Tian, Dr J Easton, Prof C Roberts  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are recruiting highly self-motivated PhD candidates in the fields of digitalisation of railway energy systems, train operation, traction power supply systems, renewable integration.

The British railway transport demand is forecast to increase by around 40% by 2040, as a result of population growth, socio-economic globalisation and sustainable mobility decarbonisation. The enhancement of capacity and efficiency is the major challenge to the railway network, which is already near saturation conditions. The current technological capabilities do not permit accurate and real-time interaction assessment between the train operation and power networks. Therefore, it is important to develop a holistic approach to improving railway capacity and efficiency.

The PhD will work on the EPSRC Project Connected and Coordinated Train Operation and Traction Power Supply Systems (COOPS) EP/Y003136/1 to develop a digital railway energy system. A digital twin with adaptive timescales and real-time data feeding will be developed to describe the interactions of the connected and coordinated systems. The outputs from the digital twin replicate the characteristics of real-world railway networks precisely. The multi-scenario simulation studies analyse the impact of various system design and control variables on performance, such as infrastructure capacity, efficiency and cost. The system performance will be evaluated and compared with the existing system. This project is also supported by international partnerships through bilateral visits, and engagement workshops with global academic and industry partners. The project will also provide a roadmap for future collaboration on optimising the railway capacity and efficiency for decarbonisation.

Application process and requirement can be found from University of Birmingham Website. Interested students can make an informal enquiry to Dr Zhongbei Tian ([Email Address Removed]) with the subject line 'Prospective PhD Student in Digital Railway', including the following:

• A brief statement explaining your motivation for pursuing a PhD and how your experience makes you a strong candidate to undertake this research (1-page A4 maximum).

• CV containing academic record and relevant experience.

• Contact details for two referees

The PhD student will work at the School of Engineering – Railway and Power groups with a diverse and inclusive working environment. The School of Engineering, at the University of Birmingham, has strong commitments to diversity and equality of opportunity, and welcome applications from candidates irrespective of their background, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or age, etc., providing they meet the required criteria.

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

This scholarship covers:
UK applicants: Tuition fees plus monthly stipend
Overseas applicants: International Tuition fees only (additional funding for living cost should be covered by family, government, or other sources).


[1] H Dong, Z Tian, JW Spencer, D Fletcher, S Hajiabady, ‘Configuration and Coordinated Control Strategy of Railway Multi-Source Traction System with Energy Storage and Renewable Energy’, IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, 2023 (Early Access).
[2] Z. Tian, N. Zhao, S. Hillmansen, C. Roberts, T. Dowens, and C. Kerr, "SmartDrive: Traction Energy Optimization and Applications in Rail Systems," IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, vol. 20, no. 7, pp. 2764-2773, 2019.
[3] J. M. Easton, "Digitalization and the Transport Industry – Are we Ready?," 2022 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), Osaka, Japan, 2022, pp. 3814-3820, doi: 10.1109/BigData55660.2022.10020210.
[4] N. Kano, Z. Tian, N. Chinomi, X. Wei and S. Hillmansen, "Renewable Sources and Energy Storage Optimization to Minimize the Global Costs of Railways," in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, doi: 10.1109/TVT.2023.3265944, 2023 (Early Access)
[5] Y. Ying, Z. Tian, M. Wu, Q. Liu and P. Tricoli, "Capacity Configuration Method of Flexible Smart Traction Power Supply System Based on Double-Layer Optimization," in IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 4571-4582, Sept. 2023, doi: 10.1109/TTE.2023.3244551.
[6] J Zhang, Z Tian, W Liu, L Jiang, J Zeng, H Qi, Y Yang, ‘Regenerative Braking Energy Utilization Analysis in AC/DC Railway Power Supply System with Energy Feedback Systems’, IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification, 2023 (Early Access).

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