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The University of Southampton

Research project: Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century - Dormant

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Track21 was a prestigious £3.6M EPSRC Programme Grant 2010-2015, bringing together academics from the Universities of Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham and key industry players. We developed a fundamental and linked understanding of the engineering, economic and environmental performance of railway track that provides the science needed to underpin a radical overhaul in techniques for railway track design, construction and maintenance.


The key research challenges and objectives through which the vision continues to be realised were to:

1. Develop much improved understandings of the complex mechanisms of railway track behaviour governing stiffness, robustness, longevity, and noise and vibration performance;

2. Integrate these understandings to optimise the engineering, environmental and economic performance of track systems; and

3. Apply them to create step changes in track system performance that is bringing about reduced deterioration rates and maintenance frequencies while mitigating the environmental effects of noise, vibration and materials use. Increasing the time between maintenance cycles will reduce whole-life costs and improve timetable reliability, giving financial, environmental and customer service benefits. The understandings gained are being applied to both ballasted track and more highly engineered track systems, and underpin the development of tools for reliable whole-life assessment.

Related research groups

Infrastructure Group
Dynamics Group
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