The Rail Technology Research Group is a specialist team of Researchers, Engineers and Project Managers at the Materials Processing Institute who carry out research to support the development of new technologies for the rail industry, with particular expertise in steel rail track. The group’s expertise spans forming, modelling, development of new materials and robust electronic sensor/actuator design.
The Rail Group has a long history of technology development in the rail sector with a proven track record of success; recent examples include -
Innotrack – A project to investigate “Innovative Track Systems” involving partners from 11 European countries.
Silentrack – A project to develop an integrated methodology for the improved control of surface noise in urban areas and looking at the whole ballast / sleeper / fixing / rail / wheel / train system.
Stardamp – A project investigating the standardisation of damping technologies for the reduction of railway noise.
The Rail Group work is ongoing with the rail sector to develop and enhance processes, products and technology to create improvements and efficiencies.
Materials Development – The Rail Group has been involved in the development of specialist high strength ferrous materials for use in the manufacture of rails and other components. This includes analysis and development of:
- Pearlitic steel grades; including
- development trials for HP355 (HPrail), a Tata Steel patented system.
- Bainitic steel grades; including
- hardwearing steel grades for use on rail crossings
- New “light” rail to enable development of energy efficient rail track
The Rail Group collaborates with partners to develop all forms of products and processes used in the development and efficient management of rail track; this can include:
- Stability research
- Segregation and cleanness work
- Roll pass design
- Shape control
- Residual stress work
- Toe batter reduction
In-service Performance Monitoring – The Rail Group has extensive experience of monitoring rail industry products in service. The products include a variety of rail forms, such as vignole, grooved and crane.
Fatigue and Corrosion Assessment – The Rail Group has equipment to assess fatigue and corrosion in rail track and other components operating in different environmental conditions.
Noise and Vibration Monitoring – The Rail Group carries out noise and vibration monitoring for both product development and homologation; as well as being an independent facility for dispute resolution.
Product Design – The Rail Group works with partners to design and develop products for the suppression of noise and vibration in rails and to develop higher grade steels for track to improve performance; this has included through life product development and optimisation to meet the need of different operating environments, including the modelling of rail systems to predict the dynamic behaviour of products in service.
The research led design carried out by The Rail Group brings efficiencies to the rail industry in terms of performance and energy consumption.
FEA Modelling – Physical and mathematical modelling applied to roll pass design, rectification modelling and distortion analysis.
Rail Group Research Facilities
The Rail Group has dedicated research facilities at the Materials Processing Institute for the development, casting and testing of ferrous and non-ferrous materials. The testing facilities include full chemical analysis for product development and macro and micro analysis using optical, XRF and electron microscope techniques.
Demonstration and testing equipment is suitable for different standard rail forms and extensive space is also available for bespoke testing and trials.