News Article | May 12, 2017
A reconfigurable train carriage system designed to allow trains to automatically switch between passenger and cargo modes is poised to undergo trials on the UK rail network. Developed by Cambridgeshire product development firm 42 Technology the so-called ‘Adaptable Carriage’ system allows the seats and tables within a passenger train carriage to be automatically stowed to create space cargo that would otherwise go by road. The system – which can either be retrofitted to existing carriages or integrated into new design – has been developed as part of a two-year programme funded by RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board). According to 42 Technology the carriage features three key innovations: a concept that enables spare passenger-carrying capacity on, for example, off-peak services, to be used for cargo; a forward-folding seat design that allows any rubbish left on seats to be tipped onto the floor for easier cleaning; and a sliding mechanism to configure the seats into a seated position and to lock them in position along the carriage. The reconfiguration process is fully automated, takes under three minutes to complete and as a result the 20 rows of seats in a typical passenger carriage (with four seats per row) can be compressed to create cargo space equivalent to the capacity of an articulated lorry. All the seats, tables and draught screens within each section of an Adaptable Carriage are connected together and can be moved along the length of the carriage via a system that also acts to cover the working mechanism in passenger configuration. The control system ensures that all seats are safely secured in both the passenger and cargo-carrying configurations, and it can be readily integrated with the carriage control system to automate door locking ensuring complete passenger safety. The system is claimed to be fully compatible with both steel-frame and modern aluminium train carriage designs using cantilevered seats. Commenting on the project RSSB technical director Chris Lawrence said: “Adaptable Carriage is an example of what can be achieved when the UK rail industry partners with a cross-sector innovation consultancy to deliver solutions to specific rail challenges.” 42 Technology is already working with a number of interested parties to support initial trials of Adaptable Carriage and to enable further commercial development of the technology. A company spokesman said that the firm hopes to be able to make an announcement about specific trials before the end of this year.
News Article | March 27, 2017
UK-based design consultancy Arup and bridge specialist Mabey announced they have delivered the world’s first modular, rapid-assembly glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) bridge. “There is always room for innovation in bridging, and we pride ourselves on pushing boundaries with new materials so we can safely build longer-lasting structures even faster,” said Michael Treacy, CEO of Mabey. “What we have developed from Arup’s concept will change the game for our customers who tell us cost and ease-of-use come first. This is a significant step in our ongoing mission to lead the future of modular bridging and we look forward to seeing the [bridge] make its UK debut.” The post-tensioned bridge is designed to be assembled in hard to reach sites where large cranes or heavy machinery cannot be used. Partially funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), the modular bridge is expected to be of particular interest to the rail industry and will provide a safer alternative to level crossings where traditional pedestrian bridges cannot be installed. The bridge has been installed at a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for Network Rail in Oxford. The bridge modules were light enough to be transported by an articulated lorry and then assembled on site and lifted from a distance. The bridge is pre-engineered, modular, fully customizable, and features include identical modules, one meter in length, which are fixed together with bolted shear connectors and then post-tensioned. The system allows spans of up to 30 meters, so it can adapt to suit any application. In addition, by being 70 percent lighter than steel, the modules only require a pallet truck or forklift to move, enabling faster, safer and more efficient project delivery. The material provides additional resistance to fire, graffiti, vandalism, and ultra-violet radiation. “This modular bridge is quick and easy to install, minimizes disruption to the surrounding communities and significantly reduces ongoing maintenance costs,” said Rebecca Stewart, an associate at Arup. “We can see this bridge being useful for a whole host of global applications – from rail footbridges to road and river spans.” As part of the collaboration, Mabey will become the first licensed distribution partner for the bridge. Based on Arup’s concept, Mabey is launching the bridge to its customers under the brand name Pedesta™ at Bridges 2017 – a notable bridge conference taking place at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada from July, 27–31 2017.
News Article | December 19, 2016
A PROJECT that could lead to major cost savings for UK rail operators has earned a prestigious award for a University of Huddersfield researcher. Dr Yousif Muhamedsalih, of the University's Institute of Railway Research, has been named Best Young Researcher of 2016 by Rail Research UK Association (RRUK), in tandem with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Judges praised him for tackling "a problem that has been of interest to mechanical engineers since the railways began". The problem is how to extend the life of railway wheelsets - how often and how much they can safely be reprofiled before they have to be scrapped and replaced. One approach is known as Economic Tyre Turning (ETT), described as "the process of turning wheels to a profile that has the same tread shape but a thinner flange, allowing less material to be removed from the wheel diameter". The use of ETT can extend wheel life, especially as modern lathes are capable of the required precision - but current GB railway standards do not permit its use. This was the background to the research conducted by Dr Yousif Muhamedsalih, Julian Stow and Dr Adam Bevan, and described by Dr Muhamedsalih in detail in a presentation for the 11th World Congress on Railway Research that took place in Milan, Italy. His research was undertaken by computer simulation and by carrying out tests on the iconic Pendolino trains run by Virgin Trains. Dr Muhamedsalih has concluded that ETT is not only safe, but it could have the ability to avoid the unnecessary costs in early replacement of wheelsets when they have significant remaining life. This could lead to changes in overhaul strategies, reducing costs to the rail industry. Computer simulations were used to predict both the magnitude of wheel wear and the worn shape of the designed and re-profiled wheels and this provided data for in-service trials carried out by Virgin Trains after it had been given the go-ahead by the Rolling Stock Standards Committee. It was in December 2015 that appraisal of ETT on a Pendolino began, when Alstom Transport had turned 20 axles on five vehicles to thin flange wheel profiles. Trials continued until March 2016, after the train had covered around 70,000 miles travelling between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston. Dr Muhamedsalih carried out weekly assessments of the wear on the wheelsets. "The outcome supported the simulation results, which predicted that tread and flange wear rate would be the same for thin and full flange profiles. The ride quality assessments results shows that the change of flange thickness had limited overall effect on the average passenger comfort," he states. This helps to make the case for ETT - already widely employed in Europe - being allowed in Britain. The project earned Dr Muhamedsalih a nomination for the RRUK Best Young Researcher of the Year Award, and he was selected by the panel of judges. He has received his certificate and £1,000 prize at the RRUK's London AGM. Yousif Muhamedsalih was born in Britain, but his family returned to Iraq, where he obtained his first degrees. He relocated to the UK for a University of Huddersfield MSc in Control Systems, moving on to doctoral research. After being awarded his PhD in 2015, he was appointed a research fellow at the University's Institute of Railway Research, where he carries out work with the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) as part of a strategic partnership.
News Article | December 13, 2016
No trains are running at all on Southern’s network on Tuesday morning, leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers in Sussex, Surrey and beyond stranded. It is the biggest strike on the railways since privatisation in 1994, as drivers from the Aslef union have followed conductors from the RMT in taking industrial action in the long-running dispute on Britain’s biggest commuter franchise. The drivers’ strikes – which have the biggest effect, stopping all Southern trains – started on Tuesday and will continue on Wednesday 14 December and Friday 16 December. Another six-day walkout is scheduled from Monday 9 January. Conductors will strike on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 December and from New Year’s Eve until Monday 2 January. Drivers have also voted for an indefinite overtime ban, which will severely disrupt services every day, even without strikes. The dispute is over driver-only operation of trains on the franchise. That means changes to the role of conductors, who are now being rebranded as “onboard supervisors”. They will no longer close the doors on new trains being brought into operation. Unions claim that this practice is unsafe, and fear that once the safety-critical tasks of the conductor are removed, jobs will be at risk. Although Southern’s owner, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), has promised not to axe jobs, and says it will normally run trains with a second staff member aboard, it wants to retain the right to run trains with one. Aslef had attempted to join the RMT strikes from the beginning of the dispute in spring, but was blocked by a court injunction won by GTR. GTR, the Rail Safety and Standards Board and most of the industry says it is safe, and points out that it is longstanding practice in some parts of the rail network, including in Southern’s sister Thameslink services in the wider GTR franchise. Unions question the independence of the safety board, whose directors include GTR’s chief executive, and argue that the conditions of modern railways – with longer trains and far more passengers – are not comparable to the days when they accepted the principle of one crew member on board. Drivers’ union Aslef argues that CCTV does not give the same level of oversight as a conductor would have in closing the doors. As commuters are well aware, problems long pre-date the strikes. Management admitted to staff shortages when its franchise started, but the poor situation has been made worse by the need to take out more drivers to act as trainers, or to be trained themselves on the new rolling stock. Higher than usual levels of sickness – labelled by Southern and the government as unofficial industrial action, to the fury of unions – has further worsened the situation. Much of the network, including the Brighton mainline, is regarded as having insufficient capacity to run enough trains for the demand. Large-scale engineering works, including the overhaul of London Bridge, have been another source of major disruption. Random events such as breakdowns, flooding and sinkholes have also struck the luckless Southern, and with resources stretched to the limit and staff goodwill broken down, the knock-on effects of such incidents can be more extreme. Only the scale of the disruption and the public outcry would suggest action is imminent – otherwise, the rift between unions and the train company and the government is wider than ever. GTR have in theory offered talks at Acas on Tuesday, but only on condition that unions abandon their strikes. But Aslef said that the company had been unwilling to negotiate until the strikes were reality. Previous talks between the RMT and GTR have collapsed. Both sides have claimed talks are pointless because neither will come without preconditions. Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has only offered a meeting if unions commit to abandoning strike action – but has also said he will not get involved in direct talks. In any case, after Grayling told MPs on Monday that Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, had “promised 10 years of strikes”, Whelan responded that Grayling was lying and betraying a private meeting – and said the breakdown in trust was now total, and extended to the government. Unions say that overwhelming votes to strike reflect widespread anger at management practices on the franchise. One possible reason for optimism is that unions recently reached a negotiated settlement with Scotrail in a similar dispute, albeit in a very different political environment. Most commuters think neither the RMT nor the management are blameless. Unions are seeking guarantees over future roles that appear to be untenable. Southern has clearly had some management problems. Meanwhile ,Grayling – who was revealed last week to have suggested blocking Transport for London taking over more rail commuter services in the capital, a move supported by all parties, because it would come under the control of a Labour mayor – certainly isn’t making industrial relations any easier. But the broader context is that government has been looking to cut costs and bring in more automation on the rail network. Trains have been ordered with a view to driver-only operation, and franchises structured on the basis such changes are made. Speeches by senior rail officials at the Department for Transport have further exposed the government’s wider agenda, which unions fear will spread across the country. That may be a path to cheaper railways, but unions fear it will mean job losses, and that – for all the assurances on Southern now – future franchises will not have a second crew member on board.
News Article | March 8, 2016
Repoint is a robust and reliable points concept which breaks with 200 years of tradition to offer a change in design that will increase reliability, reduce maintenance costs and boost capacity on the railways. It is the result of research carried out with industry experts into improved switches which eradicate known issues with existing designs. The two-and-a-half-year project, funded by the UK rail safety body RSSB (formerly known as the Rail Safety and Standards Board), will see a full scale, prototype track switch developed and deployed. Using safety concepts derived from aerospace and the nuclear industries, Repoint allows redundant, fail-safe actuation and locking of track switches for the first time. This means that a failure of a single actuator element will not cause the failure of the entire switch – allowing trains to continue until such a time as maintenance becomes feasible. With increasing traffic density throughout the network, windows for maintenance work are becoming tighter, which is why the Repoint technology - which will be developed alongside RSSB, London Underground, and its supply base - has so much potential. Repoint has been led by Professor Roger Dixon, Senior Project Engineer Sam Bemment, Professor Roger Goodall, and Dr Chris Ward. The team are part of the Control Systems Research Group in the University's Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering. Professor Dixon, Head of the Control Systems Research Group, said: "Bringing Repoint a step closer to operation is a fantastic achievement with the potential to fix a 200-year-old problem on rail networks around the world. "Great Britain's rail network, in particular, is under pressure to provide increased capacity and reliability at a reduced cost. With the support of RSSB, we can make track switch failures a thing of the past by introducing a cost-effective alternative which has not been seen before." Neil Webster, RSSB Future Railway Programme Director, commented: "Our continued support for the Repoint project reinforces our belief in the technology and the potential it has to deliver real, tangible benefits to the future of the rail industry. We look forward to seeing the design once implemented, improving reliability and increasing capacity on our ever expanding rail network." With RSSB and Loughborough University at the forefront of implementing the technology in the UK, opportunities are now being pursued with development partners to roll out the patented technology across international rail networks, with discussions so far held with companies in South Africa, Australia and China. Explore further: Rail researchers work on UK's first Tram-Train scheme
News Article | November 16, 2016
Every year, thousands of commuters endure the frustration of Autumn delays caused by the accumulation of leafy slush on train tracks – and these problems usually reach their peak in mid-November, when leaf loss is coupled with high levels of moisture in the air or on the ground. Lee Chapman, Professor of Climate Resilience from the University, was inspired by the Internet of Things, which uses a range of innovative power, communication and sensing technology to aggregate real-time, on the ground, data. Funded by EPSRC and the Rail Safety and Standards Board, he worked with Alta Innovations, the University of Birmingham's technology transfer company, to transform the concept into a reality. His new technology, called AutumnSense, uses low-cost sensors to continuously measure the level of moisture on the railway line at potentially thousands of sites across the network. By linking this data with a leaf-fall forecast, operators can identify where and when the risk is greatest. This allows the precise and efficient use of automated treatment trains, which can clear the lines before the morning rush hour starts. His team are now testing the next element of the solution which is a low-cost method to count the number of leaves remaining on the trees. Professor Chapman's team had previously developed low-cost devices that are fitted to lamp-posts, and transmit data on road surface temperatures, to show precisely where road gritting is needed, and where it isn't. The road technology, called WinterSense, is currently being tested by commercial partners and is expected to be in mass production by the end of this winter. Professor Chapman said, "One of the major issues with road and rail safety is that hazardous conditions are usually highly localised. For remedial actions to be efficient, and demonstrate 'best value' for the taxpayer, resources should be deployed where they are needed, rather than in a blanket fashion." He is marketing AutumnSense and WinterSense through AltaSense, an operating division of Alta Innovations, and hopes to incorporate by Autumn 2017. He said, "Even though leaf loss and damp conditions can largely be predicted - and despite automated treatment trains working round the clock from October to December - a windy, rainy night still causes havoc for commuters. We have run an initial trial of AutumnSense on a stretch of London Underground tracks that are above ground, and are hoping to move quickly towards a fuller network wide trial." Wet leaves pose a very real safety challenge for train operators, potentially doubling the breaking distance and causing signalling issues, or 'disappearing trains' on the rail control systems due to the electrically insulating effect of the leaves which can prevent operation of track circuits. Leaves on the line are only an issue when they are mixed with moisture or dew, creating a slippery, Teflon-like substance. Explore further: Winter is coming—new sensors could cut millions from gritting costs
Griffin D.J.K.,Rail Safety and Standards Board
Safety and Reliability: Methodology and Applications - Proceedings of the European Safety and Reliability Conference, ESREL 2014 | Year: 2015
RSSB has developed geospatial models (GeoSRM) of rail safety hazards across the mainline rail network in Great Britain (GB). The GeoSRM, shows how risk is distributed across the network, rather than generating a single national estimate for each type of hazard. The GeoSRM is web-based allowing users to submit queries on the risk level for specified regions, routes, hazard types, train operators, services or classes of rolling stock, and display the risk levels overlaid on a map. The pilot model of the GeoSRM is based around three hazardous events: station slips, trips & falls, railway suicides and train derailments. Station slips, trips & falls and suicides are modelled statistically with generalised linear models, taking into account geospatial variation in population characteristics and station properties. Whilst describing the GeoSRM framework in general, this paper focusses on the modelling of train derailments. This takes into consideration the geospatial variation in the frequency of derailments, the probability of derailment escalation and the consequence of any resulting derailment. Derailment causes and escalation probabilities have been linked to the underlying assets that could lead to a derailment e.g. linking derailment due to landslip to presence of cuttings. The paper shows how geospatial risk models can be developed and applied within a railway environment, and how models of this type could be used to inform decision making. © 2015 Taylor & Francis Group.
Lane J.S.,Rail Safety and Standards Board
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Forensic Engineering | Year: 2011
Captain Galton's 1862 paper identifies that 116 passengers were killed or injured in UK train accidents between 1854 and 1860, compared with only six passenger fatalities in the most recent comparable period today (2004-2010). When the number of passenger journeys is taken into account (163 435 678 per year in 1860 and 1?4 billion per year in 2010), itmay be concluded that British railways today are approximately 170 times safer. Galton provides a detailed analysis of the cause of 534 train accidents that were reported upon by the Board of Trade inspectors. He established thatmany accidentswere due to multiple causes and were preventable in the majority of cases. He found that although there were instances where the cause of the accident was attributable to negligence of railway staff, the main causes were inappropriate methods of working and ineffectivemanagement. Galton's recommendations for a safe railway involving greater cooperation between railway companies, the sharing of good practice and learning from accidents are now the reality in today's railways.
News Article | September 20, 2016
PriestmanGoode says the Horizon and Island Bay seats can be installed on new or existing trains and trams and could be rolled out within a year(Credit: PriestmanGoode) Although the designs are currently conceptual, they were funded by the UK's Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) with a view, ultimately, to improving passenger experience. In addition, PriestmanGoode itself has a strong track record of transport design, including the new driverless trains for the London Underground, as well as airplane business class cabins for Swiss International Air Lines, Virgin Australia and United Airlines. The seat designs are based on the premise that many cities and their transport networks are faced with increasing levels of overcrowding. Designer and chairman at PriestmanGoode Paul Priestman points out that, while it's important for us to encourage the more sustainable use of public transport over the use of personal vehicles, such services become unpleasant to use as capacity begins to fall short of passenger numbers. "In many countries the existing public transport infrastructure cannot be improved sufficiently quickly to keep pace with these rapidly increasing passenger numbers and, in many cases, platforms cannot be extended nor the size of trains increased," says Priestman in a press release. "So, as designers, we need to innovate to help alleviate the problem and improve passenger experience." The first of PriestmanGoode's two seats, the Horizon, is designed to take up considerably less space than a typical commuter train seat, allowing for 20-30 percent more seating in a carriage. The two-seat, side-by-side unit also has a slightly staggered configuration, increasing shoulder space and personal space for each passenger. Luggage storage space and bag hooks at the Horizon seats allow passengers to keep their belongings close at hand at all times and eliminate the need for luggage racks. They are also said to provide a fully supported seating position and each seat has two footrests so as to accommodate passengers of different heights. Mobile device mounts can support tablets and smartphones at a range of viewing angles and there are USB charging points as well. The Island Bay seat, meanwhile, is designed to be a flexible solution that can provide regular seating during off-peak times and a more economic setup at busier times. To do so, its base flips up to provide a seat that is higher, is thinner and takes up less space, but that is still fully supportive, unlike perch seats commonly found on public transport. In addition to providing more standing space, this also brings into play an additional flip-up seat mounted underneath the window, which can otherwise be used as a table. Around 15-20 percent more seats can be fitted into a train carriage by way of the Island Bay seats and they are said to afford wider-than-average aisles too, which are more accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, large luggage and folding bicycles. Also built into the Island Bay seats are anti-theft/pick-pocket shields and twin USB charging ports. PriestmanGoode says the Horizon and Island Bay seats can be installed on new or existing trains and trams and could be rolled out within a year. The firm also suggests they could be used in combination with regular seats.
Bevan A.,University of Huddersfield |
Molyneux-Berry P.,University of Huddersfield |
Eickhoff B.,Rail Safety and Standards Board
Wear | Year: 2013
This paper summaries the development of a damage model to predict the deterioration rates of the wheel tread in terms of wear and rolling contact fatigue (RCF) damage. The model uses a description of a fleet's route diagram to characterise the duty cycle of the vehicle in terms of curve radius, cant deficiency and traction/braking performance. Using this duty cycle a large number of vehicle dynamics simulations are automatically conducted to calculate wheel-rail contact forces and predict the formation of wear and RCF damage, using a combination of the Archard and frictional energy-based (Tγ) damage models.The damage models have been validated using observation data (wear rates and maximum observed RCF damage) acquired from a range of vehicle fleets in Great Britain (GB). Results from the validation of the model are presented along with a review of the wheel turning and observation data.A piece-wise linear regression is fitted to the wear and RCF parameters predicted from the model to determine the damage rates for each wheelset type on the vehicle. These damage rates are used within the recently developed Wheelset Management Model (WMM) to describe how the attributes of the wheel (i.e. wheel diameter, profile shape and tread damage) deteriorate over time and trigger a maintenance or renewal activity when the condition of the wheel matches a particular limiting value.This work formed part of the rail industry research programme managed by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), and funded by the Department for Transport, to increase the rolling stock functionality of the Vehicle Track Interaction Strategic Model (VTISM) tool. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.