Computational Modelling 

Computational modelling offers a powerful way of virtually and, relatively inexpensively, investigating the physical and operational behaviour of many different elements of the Railway system.  We use techniques like Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to model real world behaviour and refine system and component design.  For instance, we use these techniques to simulate unusual load cases (such as a train “running through” a switch) and to refine system design when different system elements interact (e.g. reducing the pressures that develop as trains enter tunnels). The models we build are often verified and refined by comparison with experimental test data we collect in the real world either in the lab or in field tests.

Current and recent projects:

Switch “Run Through” modelling project

This project for Network Rail modelled a train running the wrong way through a switch and assessed the performance of the various components.  This enabled switch component design to be refined and to give an understanding of which components would need changing out after such an event.

Trains running on flooded track

This project, funded by RSSB, has modelled what happens when trains run over flooded tracks – various different scenarios have been modelled to assess behaviour at different speeds and different levels of flood.  The output of the project will be consistent and simple guidance and rules for Network Rail and train operators to apply in terms of running trains safely when tracks are flooded.

Switch Stretcher bar analysis and design

Following various passenger train derailments, Network Rail required an improved design for the stretcher bars used within switches.  BCRRE researchers used Finite Element Analysis to assure the new design of stretcher bar that is now being used in service.

Track structure design project

As part of a European Project, Finite Element Analysis was used to refine track structure design for various loading and drainage scenarios for single and double track formations.