Alstom Transport UK has formed a research consortium with TRL and the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research to develop a prototype train braking system, which is expected to utilise electro-magnetic technology and offer all the standard benefits of conventional systems.
The research will be funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB).
At present, most of the country’s rail operators are forced to reduce the frequency of train services during winter because operational safety is significantly compromised due to poor adhesion between railway tracks and train wheels.
The initiative aims to address this issue by enhancing train braking systems and enable drivers to stop the trains safely and accurately at stations and signalling points.
The project will be delivered in three phases and include desktop study work, as well as the development of the prototype software and associated hardware elements.
If successful, the consortium will seek additional support to conduct full-scale trials of the new solution.
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TRL technical lead and senior researcher Dr Phil Martin said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the consortium to achieve research outcomes which have the potential to disrupt the railway industry and enable a step-change in the braking performance of trains across Britain.
“It is our hope that, with this project, weather conditions will have a lesser impact on journeys and there will be fewer delays, improving rail transportation across the sector.”
The technical and business case requirements for the electro-magnetic braking system will be devised in consultation with railway industry stakeholders during the first phase of development.
The system will be designed and verified via a series of computer simulations in phase two, which will then be followed by the development and testing of the prototype system in the final phase.