Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen

Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen, Senior Lecturer in Railway and Civil Engineering, School of Engineering, has recently been awarded the Rail Winner of TRA VISIONS 2020 Senior Researcher Competitions.

TRA Visions is the largest competition in Europe that recognises and celebrates leading researchers who are or have recently been contributing to excellence in transport research and development in road, rail, waterborne, airborne, and cross modality.  The awards for both young and senior researchers, equivalent to mini-Nobel prizes or field medals in transport, showcase the very best research and recognise the brightest talents and leaders in transport industry.

The EU-funded competition TRA VISIONS 2020 has just announced its senior researcher winners at the TRA VISIONS 2020 Award Ceremony which was held online on Tuesday 29 September (9.30 am CET). This can be viewed on online. The awards are presented to leading transport researchers to recognise their contribution to their mode of transport based on EU funded projects. 

The TRAVISIONS 2020 Senior Researcher Competition received 81 entries from researchers based in 20 countries from all over Europe. Entries were submitted for the five transport modes road, rail, airborne, waterborne and cross-modality. The rail winner, Sakdirat Kaewunruen, Senior Lecturer in Railway and Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham for his research on environment-friendly, resilient, and smart rail infrastructures. The prestigious TRA Visions Competitions run every 2 years and the next one will be in 2022.

 Dr Sakdirat Kaewunruen is the coordinator of RISEN (Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering Network). RISEN is an MSCA-RISE project (No 691135) which focuses on environment-friendly, resilient, and smart rail infrastructures. The goal of the project is to enhance ‘future rail capacity and adaptability to climate change and extreme events stemming from either natural or human-made hazards.’ RISEN’s frontier research reinforces both bottom-up and top-down life cycle management, maintenance and operation to provide safe and seamless railways.

So far, RISEN has supported more than 50 Marie Curie researchers, who have collaborated with many world-class institutions, and have contributed to over 250 technical publications – all of them being open access, making it a very sustainable legacy for life-long learning of all mankind as well as the next generation engineers and practitioners. At the same time, these outcomes provide new practical solutions to any rail disruption for the industry. Our research solutions have already been implemented in the industry by our industrial partners in Portugal, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and France. RISEN outcome has already made a global impact through the development of several international standards for railways.

Social and economic growth, security and sustainability in Europe are at risk of being compromised due to aging and failing railway infrastructure systems. This partly reflects a recognised skill shortage in railway infrastructure engineering. This project, RISEN, aims to enhance knowledge creation and transfer using both international and intersectoral secondment mechanisms among European Advanced Rail Research Universities/SMEs and Non-EU, world-class rail universities including the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (USA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), University of California Berkeley (USA), Southwest Jiaotong University (China) and University of Wollongong (Australia), Tsinghua University (China), University of São Paulo (Brazil), Railway Technical Research Institute (Japan) and Iranian University of Science and Technology (Iran). This project adds research skill mobility and innovation dimension to existing bilateral collaborations between universities through research exchange, joint research supervision, summer courses, international training and workshops, and joint development of innovative inventions. It spans from 2016 to 2021. However, RISEN activities are currently suspended due to COVID19. It is expected that the project will be recommenced after mid 2021.

RISEN aims to produce the next generation of engineers and scientists needed to meet the challenge of providing sustainable, smart and resilient railway infrastructure systems critical for maintaining European competitiveness. The emphasis will be placed on the resilience and adaptation of railway and urban transport infrastructures using integrated smart systems. Such critical areas of the research theme will thus be synergised to improve response and resilience of rail infrastructure systems to climate change, extreme events from natural and human-made hazards, and future operational demands. In addition, researchers will benefit from the co-location of engineering education, training and research alongside world-class scientists and industry users through this initiative. Lessons learnt from rail infrastructure management will be shared and utilised to assure integrated and sustainable rail transport planning for future cities and communities.