PhD Studentship in Performance of Fixed Diamonds in Complex Railway
University of Southampton School of Engineering
United Kingdom

PhD Studentship in Performance of Fixed Diamonds in Complex Railway S&C

School of Engineering

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Monday 31 August 2020

Reference: 1283220DA

Supervisory Team: William Powrie, Louis Le Pen

Project description

Researching the totally reliable, affordable, zero-carbon, 24-hour railway

The railway is at the heart of Britain’s economy and touches the lives of millions of people daily. Future success relies on it becoming more resilient and more cost and carbon efficient, and on improving its service to passengers.

High capacity, high speed inter-urban rail for passengers and freight is of major importance around the world. Increased capacity on new and existing routes is urgently needed to decarbonise land transport and improve economic efficiency.

Switches and crossings (S&C) constitute about 1% of the UK railway network by route distance yet account for about 20% of track maintenance and renewal costs. This is partly because by their nature they are complex structures that attract high and otherwise onerous loads. However, there is a growing appreciation that they are not generally optimised in a systems sense, and that more could be done by way of improved design and maintenance methods to improve their performance and longevity. Recent research by the University of Southampton in partnership with the University of Huddersfield has focused on understanding the real behaviour of switches and how it is influenced by their component parts. This project would extend that work to the fixed diamond element of crossings.

Your project will be carried out in collaboration with the Southern Region of Network Rail and will involve field monitoring of fixed diamonds at 1-3 problematic or other locations on their network, to obtain baseline behaviour of actual performance. These data will be used to develop models of crossing behaviour for use in geotechnical and / or vehicle-track interaction (VTI) models, possibly in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield.

Enjoying the best of both worlds, you will be employed by Network Rail (NR) on a graduate salary and work alongside a world-leading research team at the new National Infrastructure Laboratory in Southampton. You will be a member of a small cohort of doctoral students working with NR in the research group that leads the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure. You will be supervised jointly by the University and NR, with opportunities to spend periods of time in NR offices and on site. Your PhD research outputs are likely to lead quickly to real world trials and potential adoption into standards and practice.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have at least a relevant UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020. Short-listed candidates will be interviewed by the University and Network Rail jointly soon afterwards.

Funding: full tuition for UK and EU students. Successful candidates will be employed by Network Rail with a starting salary of £26,500 per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter “Fixed diamonds” under the Topic or Field of Research. A parallel application to Network Rail will be required.

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Personal statement of your reasons for applying, not exceeding 500 words

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:


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