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Threshold loading effects on railway subgrade

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Dr Rod Anderson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team: William Powrie, Joel Smethurst, Madhu Murthy

Project description

Researching the totally reliable, affordable, zero-carbon, 24-hour railway
The railway is at the heart of Britain’s economy and touches the lives of millions of people daily. Future success relies on it becoming more resilient and more cost and carbon efficient, and on improving its service to passengers.

High capacity, high speed inter-urban rail for passengers and freight is of major importance around the world. Increased capacity on new and existing routes is urgently needed to decarbonise land transport and improve economic efficiency.

Britain’s railways now carry more passengers each year than at any time since the 1960s, on a network that has roughly halved in size. Rail passenger journey numbers have roughly doubled since the mid-1990s. This has resulted in the need to extract as much capacity as possible from the existing network, by running longer, heavier and more frequent trains. There is especially scope to increase the speed and axle loads of freight trains, but there are concerns that to do so might cause an infrastructure maintenance threshold to be crossed. Your project will investigate this effect with respect to the underlying soils.

The investigation of subgrade threshold behaviour will based on cyclic tests in the hollow cylinder apparatus, in which changes in principal stress direction representative of stress paths in reality can be imposed, supported by geotechnical finite element analyses using an appropriate soil model. In both cases, the investigation and findings will be related to conditions and a proposed increase in freight speed / axle load on the Portsmouth “direct” railway line, for which field data may become available during the course of the study.

Enjoying the best of both worlds, you will be employed by Network Rail (NR) on a graduate salary and work alongside a world-leading research team at the new National Infrastructure Laboratory in Southampton. You will be a member of a small cohort of doctoral students working with NR in the research group that leads the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure. You will be supervised jointly by the University and NR, with opportunities to spend periods of time in NR offices and on site. Your PhD research outputs are likely to lead quickly to real world trials and potential adoption into standards and practice.

Entry Requirements
Applicants should have at least a relevant UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020. Short-listed candidates will be interviewed by the University and Network Rail jointly soon afterwards.

Funding: full tuition for UK and EU students. Successful candidates will be employed by Network Rail with a starting salary of £26,500 per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter “Threshold loading effects on railway subgrade” under the Topic or Field of Research. A parallel application to Network Rail will be required.

Applications should include:
Curriculum Vitae
Personal statement of your reasons for applying, not exceeding 500 words
Two reference letters
Degree Transcripts to date
Apply online:

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed]

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