PhD Studentship in Rail Breaks and Track Buckles
University of Southampton School of Engineering
United Kingdom

PhD Studentship in Rail breaks and Track Buckles

School of Engineering

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Monday 31 August 2020

Reference: 1283120DA

Supervisory Team: John Harkness, 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.

Mean rail temperatures are projected to increase into the mid-40s Celsius within the next 30 years. Current knowledge suggests that increasing the rail Stress Free Temperature (SFT) – the usual response in these circumstances - would have an undesirable but unquantified effect on rail breaks in winter. In particular, the impact of increasing the SFT on the risk of fracture due a pre-existing defect has not been quantified. A further consideration is that a high proportion of track buckles occur on curved track. Hence there is a need to understand the behaviour of continuous welded rail (CWR) on curved track to determine whether sharper curves breathe /creep over the winter / summer cycle. This could mean that a curve may exhibit a high apparent SFT in summer and a correspondingly lower one in the winter. Your project will investigate the relationship between rail mean tensile forces and rail fracture risk to understand its potential impact in terms of safety and performance, and recommend how the target Stress Free Temperature value for rail should evolve to meet the challenges of long term climate change in the UK.

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 “Rail breaks and track buckles” 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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