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Mapping the resilience of green transport corridors to strong winds effects

   Department of Civil Engineering

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Managing trees and plants alongside railways for the safety of passengers and railway workers whilst achieving a respectful balance to protect our lineside habitats is essential. With 20,000 miles of track and millions of trees growing along the railway, managing vegetation is hugely important. If not managed well, trees and fallen leaves can pose a risk to the safe running of the railway and cause delays to trains. Trees falling onto transport networks present one of the largest recurrent environmental threats to the integrity of networks and other critical infrastructure. Often major leaf fall, failure of tree limbs, or complete tree failure occurs during wind storms, which in turn occur in high frequency across the UK during autumn/winter months. Whilst felling all trees in proximity to the rail network potentially solves the problem, it is, however, costly and has large negative environmental impacts to lineside habitats.

An alternative approach is to assess the health of individual trees along transportation routes and associate a relative risk factor, with a view to directing tree-specific management plans to reduce the overall relative risk to the network, whilst appropriately managing environmental habitats. To date, such an approach would be highly costly and require a large team to cover the entire railway network to undertake site/tree-specific risk assessments. This PhD study will develop a digital tool to aid the identification of trees which pose a risk to the railway in strong wind storms and highlight estimated mechanisms of tree failure to supplement lineside vegetation management strategies. The PhD student will have an opportunity to work closely with Network Rail.


Applicants should have a good primary degree (First- or Second-class Honours) or M.Sc. in an engineering, geography or mathematical discipline ideally with a focus on fluid mechanics/dynamics and good numerical modelling skills.

If you would like to join a supportive and inclusive team of multidisciplinary engineers, or if you would simply like to know more, please contact us for information.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded with a stipend for UK (Home) applicants through a joint industry/academia scholarship. International applicants will be required to cover living costs.

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