Bridget graduated in Mathematics from Cambridge University in 1977 and joined British Rail Research as a research engineer. The development of digital computers enabled rapid progress in the mathematical modelling of engineered systems. Bridget was a core member of the team which developed simulation tools for railway vehicle dynamics, including the complex and highly non-linear wheel-rail contact forces. This involved carefully planned and executed full-scale on-track tests to investigate real-world behaviour, as well as theoretical understanding. Software, using the principles established by this research, is now routinely used in the specification, design, optimisation and approvals of railway vehicles.
Bridget progressed to applying her knowledge to improve railway safety and performance, specialising in wheel-rail and vehicle-track interaction, including the study of derailment mechanisms, track forces and deterioration, vehicle approval methods and passenger comfort. She began a long-term involvement in European standards-making, using both her technical and inter-personal skills, so that the ‘GB’ input was valued and listened to.
Following the derailment at Hatfield in October 2000, she was asked to join the international ‘task force’ set up to understand the science behind railway rolling contact fatigue and to develop tools and techniques now used to manage this interface, providing key dynamics input.
The EU FP7 DynoTrain research project (2009 to 2013) had objectives to extend the use of simulations and advance ‘interoperability’, such that testing and approvals completed in one country or network would automatically be accepted in another network, without additional costly and time-consuming work. The project involved 22 partner organisations across Europe. Bridget was a steering group member as well as leader for the GB input and for one of the 7 work packages. She played an active part in all the others. The project was very successful, thanks to a strong technical team. The results are already incorporated in several international standards and processes, delivering real benefits. Published papers on this work also won prizes from peer-reviewed journals.
Bridget joined the Rail Safety and Standards Board in 2008 and became Professional Head for infrastructure standards. She provides input into UK and international standards, improving global safety and leading adoption of sector best practice for the interfaces between the infrastructure and other railway systems. This has included contributions to the cross-industry body set up to investigate the causes of freight vehicle derailments, at the request of the Regulator. She is also the engineering lead in the development and implementation of the industry’s Platform Train Interface Strategy to improve the safety, accessibility and performance of this element of railway operations.