MMU helps put bullet trains on track

Manchester Metropolitan University engineers are helping Hitachi develop Channel Tunnnel Link bullet trains

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) engineers are helping Hitachi develop the Channel Tunnnel Link bullet trains by researching the predicted wheel wear of the high-speed trains which is crucial to their safety.

The MMU team spent four months using computer software to simulate the effect of the wheels on the tracks, taking into account track design and irregularity, traction forces, wheel-rail friction and speed.

The simulation programme, Vampire Rail Vehicle Dynamics, was developed with the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. MMU claims it is the only effective way of predicting wheel wear.

‘Stockholm developed a technique for predicting wheel wear that has been used in Sweden, and we have adapted it for use in the UK,’ said Adam Bevan, MMU project manager. ‘It was validated last year with research we did with the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), when we measured wheel wear on different routes and compared the statistics with our predictions.’

The results of the research will be used by Hitachi to ensure that the trains perform to RSSB safety standards. ‘After running some case studies on how the wheel wear might change for the trains, the results were fed back to Hitachi so they can conduct optimisation work,’ said Bevan.

This could include improvements being made to train suspension so they exert less fatigue-causing force on to the tracks. Bevan added: ‘Hopefully we’ll also be involved in the testing of the vehicles with Hitachi in the future.’