HS2: collaborate to innovate

Source: RTM June/July 2018

Dr Chris Goodier and Dr Steve Yeomans, of Loughborough University’s Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering (CICE), talk about four new HS2 research projects which are set to challenge how we design, build and monitor high-speed rail projects.

No one doubts that HS2 must provide a platform for innovation, but just how can this be achieved? How can researchers keep up with one of the world’s most technologically advanced high-speed railways and help drive innovation, now and in years to come?

These are the questions attracting the interest of top scholars at Loughborough University (pictured), who have embarked on a long-term research partnership with HS2.

In the first phase of this exciting new collaboration between leading civil engineering academics and the innovation and engineering teams at HS2, four research projects have been created to support the successful delivery and operation of the HS2 rail network – but their work won’t be sitting behind closed doors. Innovation and collaboration will be essential.

Working under an umbrella theme of ‘innovation for whole-life value,’ the team has identified key research initiatives to help optimise the design, build and operation of the railway.

Dr Chris Goodier, the director of CICE, explained: “We are delighted to be applying our research expertise to help HS2 create a world-class, durable and sustainable transport system of the future. The research programme will generate learning, innovations and insights that will carry impacts well beyond the first HS2 phase.”

Four new recruits will undertake doctoral projects, building on Loughborough’s well-established Engineering Doctorate (EngD) programme, which has been recognised for its high-impact approach to collaborative research. The four projects cover:

  1. Geotechnics and earthworks: Innovations in the construction quality of high-speed rail trackbed and geotechnical assets. The aim is to develop novel approaches to the verification of earthworks that align with the design standards for high-speed rail, potentially facilitating a step-change in construction quality, safety and programme;
  2. 3D data capture: Monitoring using HS2 service train imagery. The aim is to investigate the potential of imagery acquired from HS2 trains to capture 3D data of trackside infrastructure. This fast-moving image capture (or ‘structure from motion’ photogrammetry) can be used to generate 3D representations of assets aligning the route, and hence monitor their change and condition over time;
  3. Sustainability: Enabling long-term resource efficiency in infrastructure projects. The aim is to develop and validate an approach for enabling whole-life resource efficiency (circular economy) throughout the HS2 programme. The research work will enhance HS2’s current understanding and practice of circular economy principles in high-speed rail and provide a consolidated circular economy knowledge base for the HS2 Phase 1 and Phase 2 programmes;
  4. BIM (Building Information Modelling): A Model-based Systems Engineering (MBSE) for a BIM virtual railway network. The aim is to develop and validate a MBSE approach on highspeed railway infrastructure projects, to help facilitate the automation and ongoing visualisation of the high-speed rail design and construction process.

Alumni Dr Steven Yeomans, who is deputy director of CICE and vice-chair of the UK Association of Engineering Doctorates, captured the scale of the opportunity: “This is a fantastic showcase for the real value and impact of the EngD approach. Loughborough’s CICE develops industry leaders who can push technological innovation through applied research within a tough industrial setting.”


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