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Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen, University of Birmingham School of Engineering

University of Birmingham engineering expert Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen has been appointed to a key role with an international working group that aims to make railways around the globe more eco-friendly.

Dr Kaewunruen is now the principal scientist representing the UK on the working group on recycling of rolling stocks of International (ISO) Standard Committee, which addresses one of the most pressing issues in global rail systems – sustainability.

The working group addresses one of the most pressing issues in global rail systems, encouraging better eco-friendly design of passenger and freight trains – contributing to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the communities they serve.

The meeting consists of 14 international experts from seven countries, including the world largest train designers and manufacturers such as CRRC (China), Bombardier, Alstom/Siemens, and SNCF (France) and has drafted the new international standard (ISO) for recycling of rolling stock.

This new standard will be the precursor in eco-friendly design, manufacturing, and maintenance operations of trains globally.

Dr Kaewunruen said: “The University of Birmingham is renowned for expertise in rail engineering and I am delighted to represent the UK on this important international working group that plays such a vital role in the sustainable development of railways.

“Birmingham is focusing its research efforts on tackling nine of the United Nations’ Global Sustainability Goals and I believe my own research is helping to address several of these goals to produce practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing mankind.”

The appointment of Dr Kaewunruen, who recently hosted the ‘International Expert Meeting on Recycling of Rolling Stocks’ at the University is based on his extensive rail research that promotes and encourages technological development and innovation in improving sustainability in transportation and transit systems.

Dr Kaewunruen’s research is aligned with a number of Sustainable Development Goals, particularly:

  • Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; and
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

His research addresses global grand engineering challenges, whilst providing an insight on advanced methods and concepts for the eco-friendly design, operations and refurbishment of railway assets and infrastructures.

Dr Cheul Kyu Lee, Chair of the ISO WG4 and formerly Senior Sustainability Advisor of International Union of Railways (UIC), commended Dr Kaewunruen’s contribution, commenting: “Considering recyclability of rolling stock from the design stage with a standardized guideline contributes to improving its environmental performance and economic values and further sustainable development of railway industry.

“The rail sector needs to implement sustainable procurement with life cycle perspective. Integration of eco-design into manufacturing rolling stock reinforces the railway industry’s solid position among transportation modes.”

He added that, with a 10% improvement of recyclability in European rail sector, the economic benefit was be expected by at least 170 Million Euros per year. With European rail accounting for some 20% of the world market, the standard would contribute to nearly a billion euros annually.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.