The effects of cross winds on the aerodynamics of high-speed trains

   Department of Civil Engineering

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  Dr D Soper, Prof Mark Sterling  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

As a train moves through the air, it generates a slipstream which can result in highly turbulent local wind fields. These turbulent flows can have a detrimental impact on infrastructure, trackside workers and passengers on platforms. Whilst much work has been undertaken examining such flows, what remains unclear is the effect of the natural wind (cross winds) on the train’s slipstreams. It is envisaged that under certain conditions which depend on the wind speed direction and magnitude, the train can have a sheltering effect and thereby reduce the overall wind forces. However, the opposite can also be the case for different wind directions and will enhance the impact of the slipstream both in terms of overall forces generated by the slipstream and the slipstream’s zone of influence.

This exciting project aims to examine the effect of cross winds on slipstreams and their impact on trackside workers/passengers and local infrastructure. The work will be undertaken using the University of Birmingham’s TRAIN rig – a unique facility which enables model trains to travel at high speeds (up to 80 m/s) whilst also generating cross winds. The slipstreams will be measured using both particle image velocimetry and local (point) velocity/pressure measurements.

The University of Birmingham is looking to recruit a highly motivated graduate with an engineering, physics or mathematical background. You will be working alongside a highly experienced team who are known for the quality of their research and creative approach to problem solving. Applicants are encouraged to contact David Soper ([Email Address Removed]) or Mark Sterling ([Email Address Removed]) for informal discussions prior to application. Please note, this project is currently only open to self-funded students. 

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

Please note, this project is currently only open to self-funded students.


Baker, C., Johnson, T., Flynn, D., Hemida, H., Quinn, A., Soper, D., & Sterling, M. (2019). Train Aerodynamics: Fundamentals and Applications. Butterworth-Heinemann.

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