❱❱ Test equipment in the IRR laboratories include wheelset test rigs, vibration tables and motion platforms, left; active and dynamic suspension elements are defining the high capacity rail bogie of the future

I asked Iwnicki why the bogies were at the centre of his group’s

focus. “The problem with bogies is that at around 5 tonnes, they’re heavy; in addition to which they occupy valuable payload space.” However, there is also work going on with bogie dynamics, too.

“We’re looking at the influence of the bogie on two-stage suspension and we have an aim of reducing the lateral forces of freight bogies by as much as 50 per cent,” he says. The load on a bogie can reach a difference of threefold between

its tare weight and that when it is laden, which has a significant effect on the bogie performance with static suspension. Early examples of introducing actively responding suspension involved a mechanical system of tensioning that increases the stiffness as the


The University of Huddersfield IRR is one of the participants in the European Sustrail project, a response to a European Commission objective to significantly increase the use of rail for long distance freight delivery by 2030. To achieve these goals, considerable improvements are

needed in railway technology including railtracks, communications and rolling stock. The technological objectives of the Sustrail project include:

■ advanced vehicle dynamics research, such as that carried out by the IRR on wheel geometry and improvements in suspension design; ■ achieving lightweight, high-performance freight vehicle body and bogie structures for speeds of up to 160kph with axle loads of 25 tonnes. This is also an area of activity at the IRR; ■ improved traction and braking systems for high-speed, low- impact freight operations; ■ advanced condition-based predictive maintenance tools for critical components for vehicles and track; ■ optimisation of the ballast system, ground stabilisation and monitoring technology to reduce track geometry degradation; ■ optimisation of the track system and geometry.

load increases. Part of the IRR’s work is to look at modernising dynamic systems within the suspension system.

TESTING SYSTEMS Within the framework of UKRRIN, the four centres have agreed on cooperation for performing testing. With three main Network Rail test centres located outside London and two for TfL at Acton and Stratford, the country is experiencing some bottle necking in testing capacity. The universities can provide some cooperation on testing and

the IRR is undergoing an expansion, which will double the size of the building and provide a £3.5 million test rig that will be able to test full size pantographs at 390kph. “The biggest cause of failures on the network is the pantograph and it’s the area of improvement that’s most wanted in the industry at the moment,” says Iwnicki. The existing laboratory at Huddersfield is also home to

“Harold”, the Huddersfield Adhesion and Rolling Contact Laboratory Dynamics rig with an 11m x 4m bed and a capacity of 50 tonnes. The only one in Europe, this impressive structure has a large, high strength framework supporting an overhead crane under which rolling stock can be rolled on rails onto a table, which has vibration capabilities as well as dynamometer wheels that can run the bogie axles up to speed during the testing cycle. During my visit, Harold was occupied by the IRR’s latest

Foresee project, the development of a radically new lightweight, two-axle railway vehicle. The new vehicle makes use of active dampers, air suspension and no bogies. The result is expected to improve stability and passenger comfort as well as increase payload capacity and reduce the wheel to rail contact forces, going some way towards solving the adhesion riddle. The vehicle was being set up ready for test with researches

positioning sensors and connecting them to the various data acquisition systems arranged around the test rig so they would later be able to obtain an accurate profile of the behaviour of the vehicle and that all-important rail-to-wheel interface.

A NETWORK WITH A FUTURE With the railway industry under frequent criticism from the travelling public, I asked Iwnicki whether he felt optimistic about the future prospects for rail transport. According to him, the IRR and the other centres of excellence in UKRRIN are working on solving the issues that will result in a better railway system for both passengers and freight. The four Cs are at the heart of the work carried out within the university’s laboratories and that can only result in tangible improvements. “Interest in rail travel now is as high as it was at its peak during

the Victorian rail mania and I don’t expect that will change very soon,” concludes Iwnicki. T&TH

12 /// Testing & Test Houses /// June 2019

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