Modelling Of Train Induced Vibration (MOTIV)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Div of Materials Mech and Structures


In spite of the global financial and economic crisis, a large number of plans for new railway networks is being proposed to meet the demand for both passengers and freight rail services. For example, construction has commenced on the £15.9 billion Crossrail project to provide an East-West rail link under London with 22 km of tunnels under the city. In January 2012 phase 1 of High Speed 2 (HS2) project was given government approval. The project will connect between London and Birmingham with future extensions to Leeds and Manchester. The overall cost of the line connecting between London and Birmingham is estimated between £15.8-17.4 billon. This will include substantial tunnelled sections through urban areas. Plans for light rail lines in urban areas are also progressing. In December 2011, plans to extend the Nottingham tram line where given green light by the government. The project involves 2 new tram lines with overall cost of £570m. In February 2012, Centro was given the green light to go ahead with the extension of Birmingham's Midland Metro tram service in a project worth £128 million.

The introduction of surface and underground railways provides substantial reduction of pollution resulting from the use of trains powered by electricity and the reduction of number of cars on streets. The use of underground railways helps significantly with congestion problems in urban areas. One of the main environmental issues linked with railway transportation in urban areas is ground-borne vibration transmitting to nearby buildings. Ground-borne vibration from railways is generated at the wheel-rail interface due to the passage of individual wheels on tracks (quasi-static loading) and due to irregularities of wheels and tracks (dynamic loading). Vibration propagates to nearby buildings where it causes annoyance to people and malfunctioning of sensitive equipment. Inhabitants of buildings perceive vibration either directly, due to motion of floors and walls, or indirects re-radiated noise. Vibration can also cause disturbance due to movement of household objects, especially mirrors or due to rattling of windowpanes and glassware. The problem can be more serious in some circumstances, such as when an underground tunnel passes below sensitive buildings such as a concert hall.

This project aims to develop a better understanding about key issues regarding the generation and propagation of railway vibration, namely the non-linear behaviour of tracks' elements and the dynamic soil-tunnel-pile interaction for a single as well as a twin tunnels. This will lead to improved models for the prediction of ground-borne vibration and noise from railways in order to reduce prediction uncertainty. To achieve the aim of the project, three objectives are set. The first is to investigate the effect of pre-load and non-linear behaviour of resilient elements of tracks will be investigated using excitation models (i.e. tracks on elastic foundations). The second is to develop a detailed Periodic Boundary Element model and couple that to the relevant structural elements to account for the interaction between twin-tunnels, soil and pile foundations. The third is to develop a fast running tool for calculating vibration transmitted to buildings on pile-foundation from surface tracks and from tracks in tunnels embedded in multi-layered ground. The model will be built in friendly-user software that will be made available for engineers responsible for designing of railway infrastructure and for engineers responsible for designing of measures to reduce vibration from railways.

Note that the project does not aim specifically to address the issue of vibration from high speed trains running on soft soil but is focused rather on vibration and noise from trains in urban settings, principally in tunnels.


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Ntotsios E (2017) The effect of track load correlation on ground-borne vibration from railways in Journal of Sound and Vibration

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/K005847/1 04/03/2013 30/06/2013 £261,554
EP/K005847/2 Transfer EP/K005847/1 01/07/2013 28/02/2017 £261,459
Description First MOTIV stakeholders group meeting (Cambridge) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This first stakeholder group meeting brought together the MOTIV research teams from the universities of Cambridge, Southampton and Nottingham. Also in attendance were research collaborators from KU Leuven in Belgium, industrial partners from Arup, URS, Pandrol UK, Centro and London Underground.
Presentations were given by the Principal Investigators and some of their PhD students. The main focus of the meeting was to initiate discussions on the development of computationally efficient numerical models that improve the accuracy of prediction of ground vibration from trains. These discussions covered both academic and industrial perspectives, and the main areas to be addressed under the MOTIV project were finalised. The roles of each of the represented entities in achieving the set objectives of MOTIV project were highlighted.

At the end of the meeting, the goals and scope of the MOTIV project were agreed upon from both academic and industrial perspectives. Also, the initial framework for collaboration among the various stakeholders was proposed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013