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Integrating train and trackside monitoring

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  • Full or part time
    Prof C Roberts
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Please not that this PhD Studentship is offered by the University of Birmingham. Applications can be made here:

Various data are available from sensors mounted on trains running on track, both plain line and over switches and crossings, and various data are available, or can be available, from sensors mounted on the rails, or the track more generally. It is logical that obtaining information from a train and lineside should give more information than either one on its own, but is this really the case? It may be the case for a length of track such as 15 or more sleepers (10 m), or over a specific area of interest such as a transition zone, or around the switch blade in switches and crossings and the crossing itself. It is likely that the dynamic interaction between the train and the track (wheelsets and rails) might be better understood by being observed on both sides of the wheel-rail interface, for example dynamic forces and the resulting rail deflections.

This PhD project will consider whether combining data from train-borne and lineside sensors is able to provide useful information that is not available from one data set or the other alone. This is likely to involve:

• Investigating what sort of sensor data collected from both sensors mounted on a train and mounted on railway track might provide useful information not available from one source alone.
• Instrumenting some plain track and a vehicle that will run over that track with inertial and/or other sensors.
• Instrumenting a set of points with various sensors (for example, force, acceleration, acoustic, deflection) and obtaining axlebox accelerations or other measurements from a vehicle going over those points, preferably for an in-service set of points and vehicle.
• Instrumenting a transition zone, for example onto or leaving a sturdy bridge, and a train with inertial or other sensors that travels over the transition zone.
• Potentially creating models, or using existing models, to simulate interactions of interest.
• Analysing the data collected from train-borne and trackside sensors, including aligning data in time and space from the two sources.

The data and analyses will inform the T2F project, in particular in relation to switch and crossing design and monitoring.

The Integrating train and trackside monitoring research project is part TRACK TO THE FUTURE (T2F) a major five-year, £8M research programme, funded by EPSRC, industry and the Universities of Southampton, Birmingham, Huddersfield and Nottingham. Its aim and vision is to support the development of railway track systems that are efficient in terms of embodied carbon, materials use and cost; robust in requiring little maintenance; and unintrusive in producing little noise. It will address this aim through three interlinked Research Challenges RC.

TRACK4LIFE (RC1): low-maintenance, long-life track systems with optimised material use, through
• developing, and demonstrating the effectiveness of, new track forms or components and promising interventions e.g. under-sleeper pads and random fibre ballast reinforcement (1A)
• developing an understanding of the relationships between the key measurable parameters of track stiffness and track settlement, and the key performance parameter of geometrical standard deviation, taking into account the interactions with rail geometry and vehicle dynamics (1B), and

DESIGNER CROSSINGS AND TRANSITIONS (RC2): crossings and transitions that optimise the behaviour of the vehicles traversing them, thereby minimising damage. This will be achieved by developing new understandings of the highly complex interactions between switch and crossing geometry, sub-base support, wheel profile and vehicle dynamics, including the effects of varying the support stiffness through the crossing or transition; and combining them with the potential of modern manufacturing methods to provide a tuned variation in geometry and materials properties.

NOISE-LESS TRACK (RC3): an integrated approach to designing a low-noise, low-vibration track consistent with reduced whole life costs and maintenance needs. Track is the main source of railway rolling noise and has a key role in vibration transmission into the ground. Noise is increasingly cited as the main objection to the expansion, reopening or construction of railways. However, design changes are usually driven by other concerns with the implications for noise and vibration considered as secondary effects.

Applications for this PhD research project are accepted on a rolling basis and we therefore advise you to apply early if you are interested.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Professor Clive Roberts, University of Birmingham, Email: [Email Address Removed]

How good is research at University of Southampton in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 192.23

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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