Rail freight

08.08.17

IRR experts take lead to deliver lighter-weight freight bogies

Experts from the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR) have announced an ambitious plan to double the amount of freight carried by trains across Europe through the development of lighter-weight bogies.

The project, part of the EU funded DYNAFREIGHT programme, is looking into how lighter-weight bogies can be delivered on trains across the UK and Europe. 

The IRR researchers are joining with a number of other leading institutes across Europe to deliver the research programme, which could see major changes to rail freight in the UK.

Dr Samuel Hawksbee, a structural engineer and IRR research fellow, and Professor Jay Jaiswal, an expert on steels, are taking the lead on the work package investigating ways to make bogies on rail vehicles lighter.

“Potentially, light-weighting has various advantages, such as reducing energy consumption, carbon emissions and damage to the track,” said Dr Hawksbee.

Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler also has a hand in the research, as Dr Hawksbee explains: “They provided information on one their bogies and asked what we can do to make it lighter.

“So, we are looking not just at what can we do with the steels, but what we can do to manufacturing methods to improve the welds – or to eliminate them completely, by asking if there are different technologies for joining different steel elements.”

The focus of the research will be on using higher strength steels as an alternative to the mild steels normally used for the construction of bogies.

This change could result in reduced weight, and will be vital to developing techniques for the improved welding of joints.

Dr Hawksbee added that manufacturing techniques needed to majorly change to take advantage of these steels, adding that rail could learn a lot from the automotive industry.

However, the engineer added that more research was needed, as a rail bogie carries a much heavier weight than a car. A report into the findings is currently being compiled by Dr Hawksbee and Professor Jaiswal, which will signal new avenues for future research into the topic.

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