A panel of representatives from The Association of Train Operating Companies, Railway Industry Association and Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has selected three projects to be funded for research on the reduction of the costs of railway assets.
The three projects cover drainage systems (University of Nottingham), a knowledge exchange on emerging materials (University of Sheffield) and on designing steels to better resist degradation on wheel contact (by a consortia including the Universities of Huddersfield, Cranfield, Cambridge and Leeeds).
Last summer, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in collaboration with RSSB, supported by Department for Transport (DfT) announced a £2 million research fund to support cutting edge materials science innovation for a higher capacity, lower cost railway.
Proposals were invited for establishing cross-disciplinary consortia to conduct research into novel applications for materials to reduce whole life asset costs.
Up to £2 million was earmarked, with funding for 3 or 4 proposals anticipated (in the region of £500-800k each).
Whole-life cost Assessment of Novel materials Railway Drainage Systems, University of Nottingham
This project will look at the use and whole-life cost of new lightweight and string materials within rail-track drainage systems.
‘New materials’ includes materials recently developed and materials that can be newly applied within drainage systems.
The potential advantages of lightweight materials for drainage systems relate to the ease of transport, handling and installation, as well as whole-life costs.
Rail-energy knowledge exchanges on emerging materials (ALCHEMy), University of Sheffield
This project aims to enable a step change in the life of high-value track components, initially to include switchblades, crossing noses, and insulated block joints. This will be achieved by developing techniques needed to understand, optimise and design functionally graded materials through a large-scale additive manufacturing process (laser cladding) for application on these components.
Designing steel composition and microstructure to better resist degradation during wheel rail contact, Consortia involving University of Huddersfield, Cranfield University, University of Cambridge and University of Leeds
This project aims to provide a better understanding of the response of various microstructural constituents of steels to the loads imposed during wheel-rail contact, to identify the characteristics of the steel which are important for resisting the main degradation mechanisms and to develop a methodology for optimising steel grade choices based on a cost-benefit analysis.
Further information on the initiative and the projects funded are available via the SPARK database, that also now incorporates the RSSB Human Factors library.