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The University of Southampton

Southampton engineering research to advance greener electrification of UK rail

Published: 13 July 2021
Rail wires

Engineers at the University of Southampton will drive the development of composite masts that help decarbonise the electrification of the rail network over the coming decades.

The University is one of several organisations to receive funding from the Government’s £9 million First of a Kind competition to make the railways cleaner, greener and more passenger-friendly.

Researchers at Southampton will collaborate with industry on the IMAGE (Innovative composite Mast for Greener Electrification) project to devise a lightweight, low carbon composite support structure for electrification wires.

Experts in the School of Engineering will develop foundation designs to reduce the use of costly and CO2-intensive steel and concrete, and speed up installation.

David Richards, Professor in Ground Engineering (Infrastructure) and Head of Engineering, says: “To meet its decarbonisation objectives, Network Rail has to electrify 13,000km of UK track by 2050. This project will offer a significant reduction in the mass of the support masts, but the real benefits lie in the cumulative positive effects of reducing the size of the foundations, cutting the cost and embedded carbon involved in reducing transport emissions.

“Decarbonisation of transport infrastructure and the way we use it, to help avert the climate catastrophe, is a major goal and we are proud to contribute to this project.”

The First of a Kind competition is focused on developing pioneering technology and exceptional ideas that can improve journeys for travellers, encourage passengers back onto trains and reduce the environmental impacts of rail.

Read the full story on the main news page.

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