Railway research experimental facilities
Pantograph carbon & overhead line conductors
This test machine is capable of replicating the speed and load of the contact between an overhead line conductor and the pantograph contact strip. Rapid testing is undertaken, simulating a year of traffic in around 1 hour of machine time. Contact speeds up to 125mph (200kph) are available.
SUROS - Sheffield Rolling Sliding twin disc facility
Railway rails and wheels undergo repeated loading and often suffer plastic flow, wear and cracking. This machine enables small scale testing of materials with very close control of load and slip (i.e. longitudinal traction) replicating a wheel-rail pair. The machine includes comprehensive data collection to support investigations from a few tens of contact cycles up to hundreds of thousands of wheel passes.
Rail joint servo-hydraulic testing
Versatile servo-hydraulic machines are used for testing rail joints and other components. Here an insulated rail joint is placed in repeated bending to investigate its fatigue performance.
Full size rail-wheel testing in the lab
Full scale testing of rail and wheel components is available in the university laboratory. Test parameters include the control of slip, normal load, angle of attack, wheel lateral position and rail inclination angle. For testing using the correct rail-wheel geometry but with small scale rail samples, a pocketed rail can be used for for rapid investigation of different materials or contact contaminants.
Rail fastenings & sleeper performance testing
Our versatile "strong floor" area allows configuration of hydraulic actuators for large component tests, with forces reacted from the wall and floor. Test work on sleeper performance is being conducted in this area, focused on sleeper bending and rail fastening/pad integrity.
Sleeper lateral stability
Tests on lateral stability of sleepers can be performed in the laboratory using a specially installed ballast bed fitted with load application and measuring equipment.
Ultrasonic testing of the wheel-axle fit
Expertise on ultrasonics has been used to develop a testing facility for wheel-axle press-fit inspection
Ultrasonic rail-wheel contact investigation
A recent development is in the monitoring of rail-wheel contacts and their pressure distribution using ultrasonics. A phased array transducer in a specially machined rail provides contact patch information from full-size rail-wheel contacts.