RESEARCH CHALLENGES: The Programme will address three interlinked Research Challenges (RCs) using common skills, data analysis techniques and field study sites.
TRACK4LIFE (RC1): to develop low-maintenance, long-life track systems with optimised material use. Addressing this challenge will require
- developing, and demonstrating the effectiveness of, new track forms or components and promising interventions identified in TRACK21 e.g.. under-sleeper pads and random fibre ballast reinforcement (1A)
- developing an understanding of the relationships between the key 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 (1B), and
- extending ballast life by reducing or eliminating the factors leading to its degradation, assessing the feasibility of design for the degraded state & facilitating re-use rather than downcycling or disposal (1C).
DESIGNER CROSSINGS AND TRANSITIONS (RC2): Recent research has started to quantify the highly complex interactions between switch and crossing geometry, sub-base support, wheel profile and vehicle dynamics, including the effects of varying the support stiffness through the crossing or transition. RC2 is to design crossings and transitions so as to optimise vehicle behaviour through them, hence maximising resistance to damage, by developing and combining these new understandings with the potential of modern manufacturing methods to provide a tuned variation in geometry and materials properties.
NOISE-LESS TRACK (RC3): Track is the main source of railway rolling noise and has a key role in vibration transmission into the ground. However, design changes are usually driven by other concerns with the implications for noise and vibration considered as secondary effects. RC3 is to develop and demonstrate an integrated approach to designing a low-noise, low-vibration track consistent with reduced whole life costs and maintenance needs.