TRACK SYSTEMS FOR HIGH SPEED RAILWAYS: GETTING IT RIGHT

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment

Abstract

Train speeds have steadily increased over time through advances in technology and the proposed second UK high speed railway line (HS2) will likely be designed with "passive provision" for future running at 400 km/hour. This is faster than on any ballasted track railway in the world. It is currently simply not known whether railway track for speeds of potentially 400 km/hour would be better constructed using a traditional ballast bed, a more highly engineered trackform such as a slabtrack or a hybrid between the two. Although slabtrack may have the advantage of greater permanence, ballasted track costs less to construct and if the need for ongoing maintenance can be overcome or reduced, may offer whole-life cost and carbon benefits. Certain knowledge gaps relating to ballasted track have become apparent from operational experience with HS1 and in the outline design of HS2. These concern
1. Track Geometry: experience on HS1 (London to the Channel Tunnel) is that certain sections of track, such as transition zones (between ballasted track and a more highly engineered trackform as used in tunnels and on bridges) and some curves require excessive tamping. This results in accelerated ballast degradation and increased ground vibration; both have an adverse effect on the environmental performance of the railway in terms of material use and impact on the surroundings. Thus the suitability of current design rules in terms of allowable combinations of speed, vertical and horizontal curve radius, and how these affect the need for ongoing maintenance to retain ride quality and passenger comfort is uncertain.
2. Critical velocity: on soft ground, train speeds can approach or exceed the speed of waves in the ground giving rise to resonance type effects and increased deformations. Instances of this phenomenon have been overcome using a number of mitigation measures such as the rebuilding of the embankment using compacted fill and geogrids, installation of a piled raft and ground treatment using either deep dry soil mixing or controlled modulus columns. The cost of such remedial measures can be very high, especially if they are taken primarily on a precautionary basis. However, many methods of analysis are unrefined (for example, linear elastic behaviour is often assumed or the heterogeneity of the ground, track support system and train dynamics are neglected), and conventional empirical methods may significantly overestimate dynamic amplification effects. Thus there is scope for achieving considerable economic benefits through the specification of more cost effective solutions, if the fundamental science can be better understood.
3. Ballast flight, ie the potential for ballast particles to become airborne during the passage of a very high speed train. This can cause extensive damage to the undersides of trains, and to the rails themselves if a small particle of ballast comes to rest on the rail and is then crushed. Investigations have shown that ballast flight depends on a combination of both mechanical and aerodynamic forces, and is therefore related to both train operating conditions and track layouts, but the exact conditions that give rise to it are not fully understood.
The research idea is that, by understanding the underlying science associated with high speed railways and implementing it through appropriate, reasoned advances in engineering design, we can vastly improve on the effectiveness and reduce maintenance needs of ballasted railway track for line speeds up to at least 400 km/h.

Planned Impact

The primary output of the research will be a detailed understanding of the performance of high speed ballasted track technologies. This will have substantial benefits for a wide range of stakeholders in the railway industry, including the infrastructure managers for HS1, engineers associated with the design and build of HS2 and the potential upgrade of parts of the existing UK rail network to a speed of 225 km/hour, and other practising railway engineers and consultants involved in the design, maintenance and renewal of high speed railway track. The research will also benefit other industry bodies including, but not limited to, train vehicle manufacturers, train operating companies, and those defining policy frameworks governing railway operations, standards and research. It will also benefit the users of rail transport, government and ultimately the whole of society.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1 The measurements of track displacement and ballast acceleration coupled with full scale measurements by University of Birmingham of flow velocity and pressure beneath trains, have revealed the complex nature of the forces on ballast particles during the passage of trains. In particular initial analysis of the results suggests that accelerations due to the passage of trains are much larger than those induced by aerodynamic effects.
2 The use of moving model tests and CFD analysis to measure the flow velocities and pressures beneath trains shows a high level of agreement with the full scale data and offers possible way forward for train homologation.
3 The role of poor track support conditions in component defects has been studied and new monitoring systems using low-cost MEMS accelerometers have been developed. This has included novel methods of signal processing to automatically interpret data, and to assess the track support stiffness without needing to know the train weight / axle load. Track defects on HS1 have been analysed and improved maintenance techniques have been trialled and proved.
4 A multi-body vehicle model has been developed to predict the effect of changed in track geometries and speed on ride comfort.
5 New insights into the management of ballast flight on high speed railways have been obtained
Exploitation Route Results have been used to improve maintenance practices on HS1 and to inform design details (track form, location and type of under track crossings) on HS2; and have the potential to be used on other high speed railways .
Sectors Construction,Transport

 
Description Findings from this award have been and are being used by track engineers from HS1 to inform their maintenance decisions; and have been used by HS2 to inform decisions on, for example, the nature and depth of under track crossings (UTX) and the track form adopted for Phases 1 and 2. Field data have informed and been used as case studies in the cross industry "Guide to Track Stiffness", published in August 2016 (c 1000 copies sold or distributed to Network Rail, LUL and elsewhere worldwide). Prof Powrie was appointed an advisor to the Chairman of HS2, evidenced in the HS2 Chairman's Stocktake, August 2019, and has led 12 geotechnical design workshops at the request of the HS2 Phase One Engineering Director, who estimates that £100M saving to Phase 1 arose from the output of those workshops.
Sector Construction,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Appointed to advise Chair of HS2
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Prof William Powrie was selected with Prof Andrew McNaughton (Southampton) and Prof Lord Robert Mair (Cambridge) to advise the Chairman of HS2 on the engineering design of HS2 infrastructure. Their work was cited in Recommendation 3 of the HS2 Chairman's Stocktake (August 2019) (HMG Official Sensitive - redacted version available at the given URL). In the context of challenging costs and deriving further efficiencies within the proposed scope of the railway, the Chairman says "I will continue to use Professor Andrew McNaughton, Lord Mair and Professor William Powrie to work with the HS2 Ltd Chief Engineer to examine the engineering assumptions behind existing designs". The Chairman's Stocktake was heavily cited and its cost estimates relied on in the Oakervee Review (December 2019), including a specific reference to risk arising from lack of information on ground conditions in Phase 2b. The Oakervee Review in turn underpinned the Prime Minister's announcement on 11 Feb 2020, so a direct line can be drawn from our research to the decision to proceed with HS2.
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-ltd-chairmans-stocktake-august-2019
 
Description HS2 earthworks review panels
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Separately from his role advising the Chairman of HS2, Prof Powrie provided expert advice to HS2 technical leads and their consultants, and chaired or participated in a series of panels, design reviews and deep dive exercises to improve the design of HS2 geotechnical infrastructure, from January to August 2019 with occasional further inputs. He also gave independent advice to DfT on HS2, particularly at meetings on 15th (Southampton) and 27th March 2019 (London). This has led to more economical design of large cost elements of HS2, contributing to the decision to proceed with the project. Evidence for this is set out in the separate entry on advising the Chair of HS2, who reported in the HMG publication "HS2 Chairman's Stocktake" that he would "continue to use Professor Andrew McNaughton, Lord Mair and Professor William Powrie to work with the HS2 Ltd Chief Engineer to examine the engineering assumptions behind existing designs The value engineering on Main Works Civils Contractors to date has been far reaching .."
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-ltd-chairmans-stocktake-august-2019
 
Description In2Rail
Amount € 17,998,546 (EUR)
Funding ID 635900 
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 04/2015 
End 04/2018
 
Description In2Track
Amount € 2,799,993 (EUR)
Funding ID 730841 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 02/2019
 
Description UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF)
Amount £28,086,000 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Funding Council for England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2020
 
Description AI/ Lafarge Holcim 
Organisation Aggregate Industries
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Supervise postgraduate research into innovative track systems for high speed railways.
Collaborator Contribution Financial support for studentship and steering research. Pathway to adoption of innovations.
Impact Owing to changes in the company, AI/ Lafarge Holcim withdrew from the agreement in November 2018 before a student had been appointed.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation AECOM Technology Corporation
Department AECOM, Nottingham, UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation Heriot-Watt University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation Loughborough University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation Pandrol UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation Progress Rail Services UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise and intellectual input to underpin innovation in railways, either by developing novel discoveries arising from UKRI-funded research or applying these new insights to address industry challenges. This may include access to data, equipment or facilities either in our laboratories or to enable field monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Cash funding to support laboratory tests and field measurements. Access to sites; provision of materials. Membership of industry steering groups. Pathways to impact. IN addition, we have received via the University of Birmingham a contribution of £910,000 for equipment (partner not listed above). This is part of the £28.1M reported by UoB as HEFCE (now UKRI) funding for UKRRIN and is not included here to avoid double counting. It is the amount passported by UoB to the University of Southampton.
Impact This partnership underpins collaborations listed separately in this section; the first, and to date the only, project with an output is the laboratory testing of asphalt track for AECOM.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Understanding the impact of Heavy Axle Weight (HAW) (RA9 and RA10) on infrastructure 
Organisation Rail Safety and Standards Board
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution A report presenting the results of a scoping study carried out to assess the current state of knowledge and understanding of the response of various classes of railway infrastructure asset to higher axle weight loading. It covers the trackbed and the subgrade, earthworks, and bridges including pier foundations and masonry abutments. It sets out the knowledge gaps relating to understanding how these structures behave in response to potentially many cycles of HAW loading and proposes, in outline, the work that would be needed to address them. The report also sets out a way in which a scientifically-based, route-level assessment tool could be developed to enable informed decisions about whether, and under what conditions, dispensation to run HAW traffic could be given; and what enhancements might be needed to secure a route as suitable for HAW traffic for the foreseeable future.
Collaborator Contribution Funding and engagement with a wide range of industry partners.
Impact 1 Summary of findings and infrastructure asset interaction map 2 Definition of a minimum viable product; what it would do and how it could be developed in the future 3 Proposed strategy for model development 4 Assessment of potential future developments (beyond the MVP) and a protocol for how these could be incorporated in the future
Start Year 2021
 
Description MAFEX UKRRIN virtual technological mission 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact MAFEX, the Spanish Railway Association, and UKRRIN, the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network, arranged a virtual seminar on the role of university-based research in supporting innovation in railway engineering and systems. The group at Southampton led a focus group on Infrastructure.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Ballast or Slab? - Rail Technology Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Editorial article for industry magazine on the arguments for and against using ballasted or slab track in high-speed rail. A summary of current thinking and research intended as a contribution to an ongoing debate in the industry, of contemporary relevance in the light of HS2. Aimed at the wider rail industry rather than research community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://t2f.org.uk/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/5/2018/01/Ballast-or-slab-RTM-AUG-SEP-17-1.pdf
 
Description Ballasted railway track: reducing maintenance needs - Rail Technology Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Authors of an op-ed piece in a widely read industry magazine considering the ways through which the economic and operational performance of ballasted track could be improved. Reporting on advances made through research led by Prof Powrie/Southampton over the last ten years, and looking forward. Aimed at practitioners and interested lay people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://t2f.org.uk/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/5/2018/01/Ballasted-track-reducing-maintenance-needs-RT...
 
Description Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure video launched at Railway Industry Association Innovation Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Created a video of railway infrastructure research activities and postgrad training based at the NIL in Southampton, with an endorsement by Network Rail. The video was launched at the RIA (virtual) Innovation Conference 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUON5Wxrss0
 
Description Countryfile Live 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participation in the high profile inaugural BBC Countryfile Live event 4-7 August 2016 at Blenheim Palace. As part of the science exhibit run by the University of Southampton, we took an exhibit concerning airflow around ballast particles and issues of ballast flight associated with ballasted track for high speed rail. Number of visitors is not know to us but it was substantial (in the thousands) and we benefited from association with a very well known brand.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Design of Next Generation European Railway Track Systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The objective was to progress the output from previous workshops and horizon scanning, to develop / identify new concepts and / or features of existing concepts for four railway traffic types. These were evaluated and ranked to justify the selection of design concepts for the next generation track, to address core duty requirements identified for use in next generation demonstrator(s) throughout Europe. Design concepts in scope included slab type (pavement, structural, single or double layered) continuous or discrete rail support, embedded rail or not, design type H and Z track, modular or in-situ construction. The work comprised an extensive literature review and options development to inform a number of stakeholder workshops to inform a detailed report.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Dragonfly 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This series of activities aims to attract and support women in a traditionally male-dominated discipline, including making engineering an attractive study path. Since the start of Track to the Future the Dragonfly outreach programme for young women at major education path decision points has reached 360 pupils and 29 teachers at 20 schools, and has been used to launch other events reaching a further ~150 pupils. These events frequently involve a laboratory tour and an introduction to testing ballast track systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
URL https://www.southampton.ac.uk/engineering/outreach/dragonfly-day.page
 
Description Engagement with HS2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A series of meetings to develop a framework for HS2 to engage with leading UK universities, to underpin and drive innovation. A contract was made in March 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description HS1 presentation - T400 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation to Network Rail High Speed staff on the findings to date in the areas of
• Mitigation measures used to control, manage and predict deterioration rate of repeat geometry defects
• Dynamic structure response and its effect on track stability and maintenance
• Ballast flight beneath trains - aerodynamic and geotechnical measurements
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Heavy Axle Weight cross-industry working group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presenting the results of a study to scope and propose a detailed methodology for the development, population and validation of a model to understand and quantify the incremental effects of heavy axle weights (HAW) on Network Rail infrastructure. The study is expected to lead to substantive research in 2022-23.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Leading member of UKRRIN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We are a founding member of the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network. We attend some 30 meetings a year and lead the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure, as well as jointly leading activity in Network Growth. UKRRIN has raised the profile of railway research in BEIS and the DfT, and more generally in the UK rail industry, forging new links with industrial partners of all sizes and enabling SMEs to access major facilities for produce innovation and development. We have an active secretariat and significant new and enhanced facilities, driven by a £28M UKRPIF award and some £64M of industry support in cash and kind over ten years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019,2020,2021
URL https://www.ukrrin.org.uk/
 
Description Leading member of UKRRIN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We are a founding member of the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network. We attend some 30 meetings a year and lead the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure, as well as jointly leading activity in Network Growth. UKRRIN has raised the profile of railway research in BEIS and the DfT, and more generally in the UK rail industry, forging new links with industrial partners of all sizes and enabling SMEs to access major facilities for produce innovation and development. We have an active secretariat and significant new and enhanced facilities, driven by a £28M UKRPIF award and some £64M of industry support in cash and kind over ten years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019,2020,2021
URL https://www.ukrrin.org.uk/
 
Description Letter to Modern Railways Oct 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Prof Powrie had a letter published in Modern Railways arguing the case for railway research in the UK, in response to a critical article in the Sept 2015 edition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description MAFEX Spanish railways visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Fact finding visit by Spanish railway industry delegates to find how the UK industry and academia engage. They were given presentations on engineering research and education at Southampton, and on the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network, and a tour of facilities.
In 2021 the event was repeated on-line over two days in March. Follow-up discussions are continuing, to develop possible collaborative research or consultancy to develop products.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2021
 
Description Network Rail Track Technical Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by William Powrie and Andrew McNaughton to Network Rail's Track Technical Board on the future direction of railway research, on previous collaborations, current research, a proposed EPSRC programme "the Totally Reliable, Affordable, zero-Carbon, 24-hour railway" (TRAC24) and Network Rail's current research and development programme.
The purpose was to secure support for the EPSRC proposed programme and raise awareness of capabilities at Southampton and the University's role in Network Rail's programme. In this we were successful and, although the EPSRC proposal was not funded, research continues to be commissioned from Southampton by Network Rail.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Network Rail graduates development activity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A small group of Network Rail staff on their Graduate scheme visited the National Infrastructure Laboratory for meetings on our latest findings and techniques, as part of their CPD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Opening of new UKCRIC laboratory by Chief Executive, Network Rail 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 160 people attended the September 2019 opening of the new £48M UKCRIC National Infrastructure Laboratory by Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, with guests of honour William Wilson, Chief Executive of Siemens Mobility, and Grahaeme Henderson, Vice President - Shipping, Shell Shipping and Maritime. The event was attended by senior industry, consultancy, trade organisation, government and academic partners from Associated British Ports, BAE Systems, British Steel, HS1, HS2, Lloyd's Register, National Grid, Network Rail, RSSB, Shell, Thales; Arup, Jacobs; DfT, EPSRC, Solent LEP; a number of SMEs; and several UK and one European universities - Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Delft, Heriot-Watt, Huddersfield, ICL, Leeds and Loughborough. At the event Network Rail announced a £2M R&D framework contract with UoS, and Shell signed a £1.5M donation to the University. The BBC attended, resulting in a 4-minute report shown twice on local television news and since used by us for other engagement activities. The event was also the subject of a press release by Network Rail and reported in a number of trade journals such as Ship Technology, Steel Guru and Premier Construction News. The then Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, commented, "A key part of improving our railways is ensuring the latest, cutting-edge technology is being developed and used across the network, cutting delays and strengthening resilience. Investing in innovation in the present will only improve the lives of passengers in the future."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2019/09/national-infrastructure-laboratory.page
 
Description Opening of railway technical innovation hub, Doncaste 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Opening of a facility in Doncaster with funding from Universities of Southampton, Huddersfield and Birmingham, Network Rail, Unipart Rail and Sheffield City Region LEP to engage with railway SMEs to develop research and innovation through the TRLs to commercial implementation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description RIA Innovation Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A two day conference organised by the Railway Industry Association, of which UoS is a member and recognised as the leading centre of railway infrastructure research. The ~200 delegates are mostly from industry including many SMEs, and also a strong contingent from Network Rail who fund and undertake a significant proportion of innovation in infrastructure. The focus was on how industry and universities can work together to accelerate innovation, and included case studies on taking new ideas from low TRL right through to the implementation in the live railway. The conference is part of a coherent plan of activities over two or three years to strengthen relationships between industry and academia so it is difficult to attribute new relationships to a single event but the University is seeing an increase in approaches from SMEs in particular, which has always been a difficult constituency for us.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description RIA innovation conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We participated in the Rail Research UK Association activity at the two-day Rail Industry Association Innovation conference. We provided and manned an exhibition stand and had a number of useful conversations with delegates, one of which led to a very positive comment on our work from the platform by the Chair of the Office of Rail Regulation. Others led to new contacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description RIA innovation conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact RIA, a rail industry body with a high membership rate among SMEs, held a two day innovation conference 15-16 March 2017. Three universities were invited, all partners in T2F, to exhibit and lead breakout sessions on how industry can engage with universities to drive innovation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description RTRI Japan track engineers' workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Hosted a workshop on railway track maintenance, with 5 papers by University of Southampton, 3 by other UK universities and 8 by Japanese delegates. The purpose was to advance knowledge and improve practice in the engineering of ballasted railway track. The papers were subsequently circulated to all delegates and more widely shared in the Rail Technical Research Institute, Japan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Rail Live exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This is a major UK trade fair. A group of universities including Southampton jointly attend, giving short talks and exhibiting case studies of innovation led by or underpinned by university research. The purpose is to raise awareness of the universities and advertise the range of facilities and capabilities we have, and our willingness to collaborate.
UoS gave two short presentations and participated in an exhibition area together with the Universities of Loughborough, Huddersfield and Birmingham and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network.
Some conversations were held with new contacts but the most productive discussions were with staff from Network Rail, and ultimately this fed into the new Research Framework contracts reported elsewhere.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Rail Matters video and associated activity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The activity was to create and exploit a professional video about railway infrastructure research being undertaken primarily through the EPSRC Programme Grant Track to the Future. This took advantage of a significant investment by the Railway Industry Association (RIA) promoting innovation over 12 months from November 2019, including UoS as the leading university for railway infrastructure research.
The video was completed, including very successful location filming on HS1 and strong endorsement for UoS from the Head of Track at HS1. It was launched in November 2019 at the RIA Annual Conference in front of 400 delegates. Our segment was particularly praised by the Technical Director of RIA. Our segment of the video was played on main video wall at the UKRRIN annual conference later the same month, and at an IMechE rail recruitment event for undergraduates in the South East.
It was shown at a RIA Unlocking Innovation event hosted at The University in Feb 2020 in front of 135 industry delegates, where it led to two serious enquiries for future contract work and several initial enquiries with future potential.
• Attended the Rail Industry Technical Leadership group plenary event, secured invitation to undertake research on slab track at Kings Cross station
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCFFtOGlnvE
 
Description Rail Review: Paul Clifton on transport policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Prof Powrie was interviewed by the respected journalist Paul Clifton, the only academic among other senior figures in transport, for a substantial article in Rail Review on how the UK's infrastructure will be affected by a rapidly evolving society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://t2f.org.uk/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/5/2018/01/Q2-2017-Clifton-A-Vision-for-Transport-1.pdf
 
Description Railway Industry Association Innovation Conference 2021: UK Innovation Capability Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Panel member for a plenary session at a virtual 2-day railway industry conference, believed to have been attended by around 300 delegates. The topic was UK Innovation Capability.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Railway industry Innovation Leadership Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One of three universities representing the sector at regular meetings of the Innovation Leadership Group (ILG). ILG is a subgroup of the railway industry's TLG (Technical Leadership Group) and reports to that group on matters concerning industry uptake of research and development, including technology, techniques, processes, and organisational aspects which are novel to the rail industry. Activities in 2021 included an in-person workshop to work through the barriers to innovation and potential areas for TLG/ILG action to inform TLG recommendations on the Network Rail Control Period 7 Strategy/ Whole Industry Strategic Plan input.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Regular engagement with Network Rail 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Quarterly meeting with the Group Safety & Engineering Director, Technical Authority, Network Rail and his senior technical team. Since March 2020 we have met (virtually) quarterly to address any and all infrastructure applied research and development matters affecting Network Rail. Major topics have included cost reduction, electrification, impacts of climate change, condition monitoring, and the performance and stability of historic earthworks (especially in the light of a fatal landslip in August 2020). Network Rail has agreed to fund four new PhD studentships (recruited in 2020 and commenced in Feb 2021) and support four more (to start in 2021).
Between the meetings there have been and continue to be other high level interactions, when topics have included the railway industry's response to Covid-19, reduction of embedded carbon and developing future proposals to EPSRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description SNCF seminar on instrumentation of railway track 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Southampton research staff gave a tour of facilities and a seminar on railway track instrumentation to a delegation from SNCF Reseau. SNCF responded with a presentation on instrumentation currently used in France. The visit resulted in a new relationship and firm plans for Southampton researchers to instrument a section of track in France. SNCF committed £100k value to support this work and provided a Letter of Support for a new programme grant proposal.
The visit to France was delayed due to Covid travel restrictions and is now planned to take place in 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description SOTSEF 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The annual Southampton Science and Engineering Day attracted 7,000 visitors in 2017. Some 140 interactive exhibits and activities, run by hundreds of staff and student volunteers, make this an important outreach targeting primarily school age children to interest them in a future in science and engineering. Several exhibits have a railway or geotechnical theme, including custard rolling, experiments on railway noise and vibration using lego, tribology, railway networks and engineering using railway models and Minecraft, wind tunnels, anechoic and reverberant chambers, and many more.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.southampton.ac.uk/per/university/festival/index.page
 
Description Science and Engineering Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This is a major "open day" event aimed attracting some 4,000 people to the main campus. Most are children of primary or secondary school age. A wide range of interactive, "hands-on" engineering and science activities is presented over six hours by undergrad and postgrad volunteers. In 2014, we won a National Science and Engineering Week award for Best STEM institution event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://www.southampton.ac.uk/per/university/festival/index.page
 
Description Tensar Academy Online Rail Symposium: Current Practices and Recent Innovation in Rail Trackbed Engineering 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A free online symposium organised by a leading geotechnical company, where globally recognised speakers from the rail industry and academia shared knowledge and expertise on rail trackbed design, construction, maintenance and monitoring. Presentations gave insight into the challenges and identified solutions to overcome these issues. Case studies, full scale live line monitoring programmes, various engineering solutions and design techniques were presented and discussed during the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Thales - Southampton Partnership 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented an overview of Southampton rail research and wider UK initiatives to senior staff at Thales Group in Paris
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Track Stiffness Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Regular meetings of a cross-industry working group chaired by Network Rail and including universities, consulting engineers, industry partners and infrastructure owners/operators to improve the performance of ballasted railway track systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020,2021,2022
URL http://t2f.org.uk/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/5/2016/10/A-Guide-to-Track-Stiffness_final-reviewR13_on...
 
Description UK Rail Research and Innovation Network video launched at Railway Industry Innovation Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Participate in a video of leading UK university railway research capabilities, with an endorsement by Network Rail. The video was launched at the RIA (virtual) Innovation Conference 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_cz2ka-rwg
 
Description Vehicle/Track System Interface Committee (V/T SIC) Virtual Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation: Infrastructure Research and Development Capabilities at the University of Southampton and others
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Workshop on Next Generation Track System 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A workshop to consider the future direction of European research into the next generation of railway track systems. It involved setting the scene (technology and funding); brainstorming ideas; evaluation of ideas; and next steps. It led to the development of the next phase of EU-funded research through the Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking. The University has now been commissioned to undertake a six month project to progress the output from the workshop and horizon scanning, and to develop / identify new concepts and / or features of existing concepts for the four traffic types.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020