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Innovative rail research – in industry and education

The Institute of Railway Research (IRR) carries out innovative, world-leading research into the interaction between railway vehicles and the track. This work is helping the railway industry to reduce costs and improve safety levels by furthering the understanding of how wheels interact with the track and the resulting deterioration due to wear and tear caused by high stresses.

By drawing on cross-disciplinary research and working with high profile industry partners, the Institute is producing cutting edge research with significant impacts for both the rail industry and those using rail services.

HS2 – high-speed rail

The Institute has recently been awarded its first contract under the UK government’s HS2 high-speed rail project, supporting important developments in a new era of high-speed rail travel in the UK. The Research and Enterprise team, led by Dr Paul Allen and Dr Adam Bevan, will embark on an exciting project to model the vehicle-track interaction of a number of high-speed vehicle concepts, which will run at speeds of up to 360km per hour.

‘The study will require detailed mathematical modelling and dynamic simulation of the vehicle and track system, providing the HS2 team with vital information on system performance. It will also help guide the on-going design and procurement process for both the vehicle and track.’

Dr Adam Bevan, IRR Head of Enterprise

The simulation work will investigate aspects of the system performance, such as ride quality, the forces generated between the vehicle and the track and the likely wheel-rail deterioration mechanisms and rates which might be expected during operation on the new high-speed network.

Working with industry partners

In addition to working on the government’s HS2 project, the Institute is also working closely with the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) as part of a partnership which launched in 2013. This partnership allows IRR and RSSB to share their resources and skills to inform decision making and risk prediction through system and engineering risk modelling.

Equally funded by both organisations, the £5 million five-year programme develops new research and techniques to fill current gaps in system and engineering risk modelling, as well as issues around human capital, and educating the next generation of railway professionals.

Engaging young people with research

Part of the Institute’s commitment to encouraging and educating the next generation of railway professionals includes providing opportunities for young people to engage with current research and challenges. In 2014 the Institute hosted the Smallpeice Trust rail engineering residential course, bringing together 10 teams of 15-17-year-olds over four days to take part in competitive challenges that saw them designing, building and testing their own electric-powered locomotives, running them on the Institute’s test rail track.

The successful event will be hosted again in July 2015, giving another group of enthusiastic young people the chance to engage with railway research and consider career opportunities they may want to pursue in the future.

For further information you can get in touch with the Institute of Railway Research

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