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Reliability-based Monitoring and Maintenance of Urban Railway Turnouts using Acoustic Emission

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen
    Dr M Papaelias
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description

The University of Birmingham, as part of a multi-university multi-disciplinary rail research team, has recently been The University of Birmingham is host to the world-leading Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, a multi-disciplinary group of staff from the Schools of Civil Engineering, Electronic, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials & Metallurgy. The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education brings together a multidisciplinary team from across the University to tackle fundamental railway engineering problems.

As a critical railway infrastructure, railway turnouts are generally subjected to wheel-rail impact loading. As a result, structural damages of turnout components have been frequently observed and as such they increase the cost of railway maintenance and the downtime of railway operation. Some of common damages include high wear rates, plastic flows, cracked crossing webs, cracked and loosen fasteners, and broken components. These could potentially lead to train derailment. To increase safety and decrease maintenance costs, reliability analysis and risk modelling techniques are becoming prevalent for railway applications. In addition, railway industry suffers from restricted timeframe for current inspection regimes to enable suitable reliability-based maintenance framework of railway turnouts. There is a necessity to develop a new non-destructive monitoring technique, which enables high-speed and high-frequency inspections for railway industry.

This research will aim at developing reliability-based monitoring and maintenance framework to relate these different risk levels and calculate structural reliability for railway turnout applications, developing new reliable monitoring technique using acoustic emission method, and providing guidance for benchmarking and evaluation of turnout conditions with current risk-based inspection practice.

We are looking for people to conduct research alongside the research fellows, and academics to develop an enhanced reliable monitoring system for railway industry. This is a challenging problem with a strong potential for rail industry application.

Applications are therefore sought from individuals with an interest and experience in civil, structural, mechanical or materials engineering but who also have a potential interest in field testing and statistical and probabilistic analyses.

Informal enquires can be sent to Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen ([Email Address Removed]) and in the first instance should contain a covering letter and a CV.

To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at:

Funding Notes

For excellent applicants (very good first degree), there is the potential for funding for Home / EU students that will cover fees at the current Home / EU student rate and a stipend. Overseas students are welcome to apply but should note that they will be required to be either completely self-funding, or to make up the difference between Home and Overseas fees. Please also search available sources of funding at:

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.10

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

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