LOCORPS: Lowering the Costs of Railways using Preformed Systems

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Energy, Geosci, Infrast & Society


High-speed rail lines, at ever increasing speeds and distances, are in development both in the UK and world-wide, but up-front capital expenditure can potentially be a major inhibiting factor both to the client and also in the eyes of the public. Cost reductions for these lines could be achievable if the initial costs of the physical construction, the duration of construction and the land take could be reduced. All three of these costs can potentially be reduced for embankments if the industry were to move towards a novel embankment replacement system. In addition embankment replacement systems could significantly improve the performance of the track structure as the dynamic properties of the contained material can be better controlled. However, such technology requires significant performance evaluation and the development of appropriate design guidance before UK industry can justifiably implement it in a project. This project therefore aims to evaluate and produce design guidance for two novel embankment replacement systems as a means to potentially reduce the cost of constructing new high-speed railway lines (particularly in urban environments) and improve the overall track behaviour and hence passenger experience.

Planned Impact

The ability to extend the speed range and/or develop new infrastructure techniques that can potentially reduce the capital expenditure of new lines will have a significant impact on the railway industry both nationally and internationally.

Adopting the GRS-RW and/or PMS-RW systems have the ability to provide that transformational technology for those sections of new lines where embankments are used, to allow significant reductions in the capital expenditure while improving the operational expenditure; studies in Japan show that the track behaviour can be improved when using these structures. It is therefore possible to provide a win-win situation for reducing life cycle costs on new high-speed lines, provided the GRS-RW can be designed for difficult ground conditions (a primary objective of this proposal). This project therefore helps to fulfill the goal of providing new research into the behavior of existing GRS-RW structures and new modular technology termed PMS-RW structures which extend UK technology and expertise in this area.

The project will result in the training of two PDRAs in high-speed railway track design and application which will have a positive effect on increasing the specialist knowledge in the UK for high-speed railways. This research application therefore has an extremely high impact factor and the findings of the project will lead to significant cost savings for new high-speed lines and push UK technology on the international market.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/N009207/1 01/02/2016 31/03/2018 £430,481
EP/N009207/2 Transfer EP/N009207/1 01/04/2018 31/01/2020 £187,073
Description Concrete slabtrack shows significantly reduced deflection when compared to ballasted track. The GRAFT II tests found that the settlement of concrete slabtrack was 20x less than ballasted track.
Exploitation Route Can be used in railway standards and for guidance on railway track form selection.
Sectors Transport

Description The work has looked at the behaviour of concrete and ballasted track and shown the superior performance of concrete slabtrack. These results give clear guidance to the railway industry
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Transport
Impact Types Societal

Description Institute for High Speed Railways (University of Leeds) 
Organisation Network Rail Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Setting up a Centre of Excellence for high-speed railways. Techniques developed contribute to design of new high-speed lines such as HS2. This is now called the Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration
Collaborator Contribution Design expertise to build a new research test facility
Impact Still being developed. Funding secured to build new testing facilities at the University of Leeds
Start Year 2017
Description Setting up of a new Institute 
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 Launch event and formal setting up of a new UK Institute for high-speed rail
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017