LEADING figures in the UK railway industry came to the University of Huddersfield to celebrate the completion of a multi-million pound test rig – the only one of its type in Europe – and the inauguration of a new group that will help to fast track innovations in railway technology.
The University is home to the Institute of Railway Research (IRR). After securing £4.5 million from the Regional Growth Fund, its facilities now include a 150-ton test rig that enables a wide range of experiments to be conducted on a full-size railway bogie. Not for decades has there been anything like it in the UK and it will enable in-depth investigation of many issues surrounding the contact area between wheel and rail.
Installing the rig was a demanding project, requiring 95 piles to be sunk five metres in depth and a system of air springs to prevent excessive vibration. Now, it is ready for use and the rig was officially opened by Richard East, who chairs the Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
The event was attended by over 100 engineers and executives from engineering firms and official rail bodies. After the opening ceremony, groups of them were taken on guided tours of the IRR and its new facilities.
Before the ceremony there was a sequence of talks from special guests, concluding with an address from Mr East. He stressed the need to attract talented young engineers into the railway sector, to meet a range of challenges and opportunities.
Since rail privatisation, passenger numbers had doubled, said Mr East, but the network had remained essentially the same. “This huge amount of growth is starting to challenge the capacity and the resilience that we have,” he warned.
He hoped that issues such as the need for sustainability and greater energy efficiency would motivate the new generation of engineers and he outlined some of the challenges ahead, such as the speedier adoption of novel materials as an alternative to steel, improvements in communication so that trains could be run at closer intervals – boosting track capacity – and lower mass vehicles that would require less energy to accelerate and brake. Also, advances in condition monitoring could mean rail vehicles being taken out of service less frequently.
Mr East said he was encouraged by developments at the IRR, hoping they would help to stimulate young engineers. “The rail industry really is a great place to work!”
See original article at the University of Huddersfield’s website.
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