RSSB funds rail ad­he­sion project

Rail (UK) - - Network -

The Rail Safety and Stan­dards Board (RSSB) is fund­ing a new project which aims to im­prove train brak­ing and to in­crease ca­pac­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity of the rail net­work.

Led by Al­stom Trans­port UK, the re­search con­sor­tium in­cludes TRL (Trans­port Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory) and the Univer­sity of Hud­der­s­field’s In­sti­tute of Rail­way Re­search. It aims to de­velop a pro­to­type brak­ing sys­tem com­bin­ing and con­trol­ling con­ven­tional fric­tion brak­ing with elec­tro-mag­netic brakes. Such a sys­tem could re­duce the need for au­tumn timeta­bles by re­duc­ing the stop­ping dis­tance re­quired in poor con­di­tions.

While there are po­ten­tial ca­pac­ity ben­e­fits, the White Pa­per on Pre­dictable and Op­ti­mised Brak­ing also points out that en­ergy de­mand dur­ing brak­ing and trac­tion move­ments could in­crease, as could track wear due to in­creased ver­ti­cal loads dur­ing brak­ing. It adds that in­fra­struc­ture up­grades might be needed for ar­eas with high train fre­quency, and that there could be elec­tro­mag­netic com­pat­i­bil­ity is­sues with line­side in­fra­struc­ture.

Should wide­spread de­ploy­ment of the con­cept take place, there would also be a need for changes in track ac­cess charges, in­cen­tives to en­cour­age train op­er­a­tors to use the ex­tra ca­pac­ity cre­ated, and al­ter­ations to safety reg­u­la­tions both for the brak­ing sys­tem and in­fra­struc­ture.

How­ever, the ben­e­fit-to-cost ra­tio is es­ti­mated at 4.35 over a 20-year pe­riod: emis­sions could be re­duced, plan­ning head­ways will not need to be in­creased dur­ing low ad­he­sion con­di­tions, sig­nal sec­tion lengths could be re­duced, and the num­ber of Sig­nals Passed at Dan­ger could fall.

The first stage will en­gage with stake­hold­ers to es­tab­lish re­quire­ments, the sec­ond will fi­nalise the tech­ni­cal con­cept to­gether with a sup­port­ing busi­ness case, The fi­nal stage will in­te­grate tech­ni­cal and busi­ness case mod­els, de­velop ‘ad­vanced tech­ni­cal func­tion­al­i­ties’ and demon­strate a pro­to­type elec­tro­mag­netic brak­ing con­trol sys­tem.

Paul Allen of the Univer­sity of Hud­der­s­field’s In­sti­tute of Rail­way Re­search cited the ben­e­fits of the project: “Through the pro­vi­sion of pre­dictable and op­ti­mised brak­ing, the project will help re­alise the in­dus­try’s vi­sion of run­ning trains closer to­gether and hence crit­i­cally in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity of our ev­er­more over­crowded rail­ways.”

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