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University of Huddersfield and GEORG UK launches the centre of innovation in rail

Railway test rig

Leading figures in the UK railway industry came to the University of Huddersfield to celebrate the completion of a multi-million pound test rig – the only one of its type in Europe – and the inauguration of a new group that will help to fast track innovations in railway technology. A Centre for Innovation in Rail has now been established as a distinct business unit within IRR. It is intended to help the supply chain to develop products, and act as a conduit between the university and small-to-medium sized businesses serving the rail sector.

The 150 tonne test rig enables a wide range of experiments to be conducted on full-size bogies using a pair of 2 000 mm diameter rollers that can be fitted with any type or profile of railhead. It will enable in-depth investigation of many issues surrounding the contact patch between wheel and rail.

The laboratory includes a six-axis hexapod motion platform and high performance computing system for big data analysis. However, its most impressive facility is a unique full-scale bogie rolling contact, adhesion and braking test rig. This has a 2-metre diameter rotating rail drum driven by a 0.5 MW hydraulic motor which can test a bogie at up to 125 mph and apply a braking torque of 110 kNm.

Installing the rig was a demanding project, requiring 95 piles to be sunk five metres in depth and a system of air springs to prevent excessive vibration.

Part of the rig is a dynamic test cell which can apply loads of upto 50 tonnes on the bogie or to any other component. Indeed, the rig’s first use will not use the roller. Instead the dynamic rig only will be used for accelerated fatigue testing of slab track. This will be subject to variable loads to simulate the passage of trains will be applied over a 30-day period.

The rig was designed and built by Heinrich Georg, which specialises in custom-built special purpose equipment.

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