The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: A holistic approach for the design and assessment of railway tracks

Currently Active: 

A project supported by EPSRC DTG and Network Rail funding.

Project Overview

Aerodynamic effects

The project has two aims. The first is to investigate the existing models for designing railway tracks and combine the suitable ones based on accuracy and computational efficiency to optimise the design for conventional railway tracks, i.e. ballast, slab, and trough tracks. This will be done by investigating uncertainties involved in the models’ assumptions, the models’ convergence, and the collected data. A parametric study will be conducted to identify the key parameters involved in the track behaviour. Currently, practicing engineers know that they could use/introduce some components to reduce an effect, for instance using soft railpads to reduce noise at the pin-pin frequency and to reduce the wheel-track resonance frequency but this may affect the design against other effects, for instance the soft railpads may affect stability of trains. While some of the work presented in the literature show detailed investigations of an effect, no work has attempted to consider all effects/factors in an holistic approach as proposed here.

The second aim of the project is to investigate new designs that improve engineering performance, e.g. less maintenance, heavier loads and faster trains. Track forms that combine between components of existing tracks would be tested. New types of tracks, tracks supports, ground strengthening, train load distribution, etc., will be investigated. The model(s) that would be built in this work would make it easier for new ideas of design of tracks to be investigated.

Associated research themes


Geomechanics and environmental geotechnics

Structures and solid mechanics


Related research groups

Dynamics Group


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