Track to the Future Project A

Fibre Reinforced Ballast (FRB) – Research Challenge 1

Previous work had identified the potential benefits of adding randomly-placed fibre reinforcements to ballast-like materials, in terms of improving their strength and ductility, at least in monotonic loading. This project aims to develop further the science behind the approach.

Linked to projects C and D.

Track to the Future Project B

Under Sleeper Pads (USPs) – Research Challenge 1

Previous work had identified the potential benefits of under-sleeper pads in reducing long-term (plastic) settlements of railway tracks, improving the stability of the sleeper-ballast interface and reducing contact stresses. This project aims to explore the potential benefits of USPs and understand the reasons for them, with a particular emphasis on “difficult” areas such as switches and crossings (S&C) and transitions.

Linked to projects C, F and G.

Track to the Future Project C

Understanding the development of track standard deviation – Research Challenge 1

Predicting the rate of geometry deterioration of a section of railway track is difficult, and current methods are generally over-reliant on experience and empiricism. This project aims to develop an understanding of the relationships between the measurable parameters of track stiffness and track settlement, and the key performance parameter of geometrical standard deviation, taking into account the interactions with rail geometry and vehicle dynamics.

Linked to projects A, B, C and E.

Track to the Future Project D

Re-use of ballast – Research Challenge 1

Large quantities of ballast are disposed of or “downcycled” when track is renewed, on the basis that it is “spent”. However, if the degradation in mechanical performance can be quantified and taken into account in design or mitigated by other interventions, such ballast could be re-used in track. This project develops an improved understanding of the behaviour of re-used ballast and the underlying reasons.

Linked to projects A and C.

Track to the Future Project E

Under-track crossings as a class of transition – Research Challenge 2

Together with switches and crossings (S&C), transition zones require a disproportionate amount of maintenance compared with the rest of a railway track network. To improve transition performance, there is a need to develop a holistic approach that takes into account both their real behaviour and the range of system interventions available to the designer. These include the sub-base depth and stiffness, under-sleeper and under-rail pads, rail geometry and material type, wheel profile and the dynamic characteristics of interacting vehicles within the train. This project aims to gather data on, and develop methods of analysis for, the behaviour of under-track crossings (UTX) as a particular class of transition.

Linked to projects B, C and F.

Track to the Future project F

Understanding the Behaviour of Switches & Crossings (S&C) and areas of stiffness change – Research Challenge 2

This project aims to obtain detailed data on the behaviour of switches and crossings to establish scientific evidence of their performance, in terms of the effect of layout geometry and rail profile shape; deformation under train loads and variability as a function of geometry and stiffness change; rate of geometry deterioration in areas of stiffness transition; and noise and vibration generated from negotiating switches and crossing panels.

Track to the Future Project G

Noise and vibration model developments and improvements – Research Challenge 3

Theoretical models for both rolling noise and ground-borne vibration are required to support the development of a low-noise, low-vibration track. Current models require further development to allow them to take account of the expected mitigation measures. This project aims to establish the fundamental basis and principles for the design of a low-noise, low-vibration track.

Linked to projects B and F.