RSSB has opened for expressions of interest a £4.5m competition to address the estimated £350m annual cost of track and vehicle running gear damage caused by vibration, a long standing challenge for the rail industry.
Focused on vehicle based solutions
According to RSSB, in FY2013/14 the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) paid Network Rail a total of £2.4bn in track access charges, of these charges approximately £1bn was used for ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure, including track. Whilst track access charges cover a range of different costs, these charges, in part, also reflect the damage that vehicles do to the track.
Direct costs associated with the wheel-rail interface, or rolling contact fatigue (RCF), of Network Rail is approximately £250m per annum on track damage related to RCF. In addition, TOCs are estimated to spend circa £105m on wheelset maintenance costs.
A variety of different approaches have been taken to date to address these issues but have largely focused on the investigation of different steels for rails and wheelsets; approaches to modifying suspension stiffness; and modification of wheel and rail profiles.
This £4.5m co-funded competition launched on 25 February 2016, focuses on vehicle based solutions to address the issues of damage to track and wheelsets.
Rail infrastructure design approaches to this problem will be considered out of scope of the competition.
Opportunity for greater flexibility for use of trains and improved passenger comfort
This competition will make funding available for winners who propose innovations which make technical improvements to rail vehicles, reducing track damage, wheel and suspension maintenance costs, and increase the use of vehicles for both fast and slow lines.
Neil Webster, RSSB, Future Railway Programme Director commented:
“In addition to finding new solutions to the challenges faced by maintaining the track and the vehicle running gear, improving the technology opens up the opportunity for greater flexibility for the use of trains on both slow and fast lines and will also help improve the levels of comfort experienced by passengers.”
Registrations and briefing event on 24 March, in London
Entry to this competition requires registration.
A briefing event for interested suppliers will be held on the 24 March at 1 Wimpole Street. The event will set out the challenge and competition scope in detail and provide a networking opportunity.
RSSB state that all relevant information on the competition will be sent after registration, including the application form and application guidelines.
Competition launch: 25 February 2016
Full Application pack released: 16 March 2016
Supplier briefing and consortia building event: 24 March 2016
Registration deadline: 19 May 2016
Deadline for submissions: 2 June 2016