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Dr Louis Le Pen M.Eng, PGCE, Ph.D, C.Eng, MICE

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Louis Le Pen's photo

Dr Louis Le Pen is Senior Research Fellow within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Current position

Dr Louis Le Pen is a Senior Research Fellow in the Infrastructure Research Group. He has a broad interest in geotechnical engineering research and application. His current research activities are primarily focused on geotechnical aspects of railway track performance. Examples of some areas investigated include (in collaboration with others):

Louis also co-supervises a number of PhD and undergraduate project students and has given guest lectures and supervised laboratory classes.

Recent career history

After completing a PhD in 2008 focusing on geotechnical aspects of rail track systems at the University of Southampton, Louis spent 3 years working for Gifford (now part of Ramboll) as a Geotechnical Engineer. During this time he gained experience on a variety of projects. These included, work on large road schemes, Liquid natural gas and other tanks, sea reclaimed land, sea walls, foundations to buildings and bridges (including integral bridges), earthworks remediation, cofferdams as well as a variety of temporary works and consideration/specification of construction sequences. During his PhD work in 2007/2008 Louis was involved in a successful bid to obtain funding for a £600k EPSRC grant into research related to railway track systems titled “Development And Role Of Structure In Railway Ballast” this project started in late 2008. During his three years at Gifford Louis continued his involvement with this research in an advisory capacity. Since May 2011 Louis has returned full time to the University to work primarily on rail research projects. In 2012 Louis passed the institute of civil engineering’s professional review and is now a Chartered Engineer (CEng, MICE).

Keywords: Ballast, Geotechnical engineering, Infrastructure, Railway infrastructure, Retaining Structures, Slopes, Soil mechanics, Critical velocity, Tampless track, Integral Bridges.

Principal activities

  • Design and supervision of laboratory tests on representations of elements of railway track and ballast
  • Field monitoring of track behaviour using geophones and high speed cameras to measure the frequency content and displacement of sleepers caused by train passage

Research Projects

Projects where Louis contributed to the initial research proposal and is a named researcher or Researcher Co Investigator include:

  • The development and role of structure in railway ballast (EPSRC funded)
  • Track 21 (EPSRC funded)
  • Ballast migration (Network Rail Infrastructure framework funded)
  • Earthworks and bridges performance interaction (Network Rail Infrastructure framework funded)
  • Track 400 (EPSRC funded)
  • Track to the Future

Louis works within a team of academics, researchers and students across disciplines investigating various aspects of railway behaviour. The team are continually responding to research needs. As part of this work various research tools have been developed and are available to deploy (e.g. laboratory testing apparatus and field measurement instruments). Therefore if you would like to explore research and/or consultancy in this area please contact Louis or another member of the university’s rail research group.

Further detail about these projects can be found on the Track 21 and SR2 (Southampton Railway Systems Research) websites.

Research group

Infrastructure Group

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Code Title Role
Dr Louis Le Pen
Engineering, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number: 7/4019

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