Meet the winners: ERRAC Student Awards

Apr 29, 2022 | ERRAC

In December last year, ERRAC was proud to hold the first edition of its Student Competition, with the goal of facilitating the access of young practitioners and scholars to railway industry and to advance the triple helix in the transport domain. Both Masters’ and PhD students could send in their work.

We were delighted to receive an impressive number of applicants from all across Europe and chose four winning abstracts. Our winners were announced during the Shift2Rail Innovation Days: read on to get to know them and their work!

Doctoral studies

Hongrui Wang from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Data-based Dynamic Condition Assessment of Railway Catenaries

Railway catenary is the main infrastructure that delivers electric power for train operation. With the increase of train speed and traffic density in recent years, the catenary is subject to higher and more frequent impacts from pantographs, leading to critical failures such as the breakage of contact wire. This leads not only to an increasing cost for reactive maintenance, but also disruptions of train service that affect many passengers and goods. To reduce the life cycle cost and failure rate of catenaries, planned and predictive maintenance is desired based on the condition monitoring of catenary.

This thesis contributes to improving the condition assessment of catenaries for maintenance decision making using dynamic condition monitoring data. New performance indicators of catenary are defined in a manner that is adaptive to the variations of data measured under different circumstances, such as the changes of catenary structure, pantograph type and train speed. The relationship between the monitoring data and contact wire irregularities with different wavelengths is studied using historical data and nonlinear finite element simulations. Data-based approaches are developed for the quantitative assessment of catenary conditions using adaptive signal processing and machine learning. Performances of the proposed indicators and approaches are tested and validated using case studies in the Dutch and Chinese railways.

Read the full thesis here.

Meysam Naeimi from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

An investigation into the formation of  squats in rails: modelling, characterization and testing

Rolling contact fatigue (RCF) is an important form of damage in wheels and rails that typically has surface and subsurface cracks. Squats are one of the major RCF defects that occur in the running band of rails and can create high dynamic forces and cause rail fracture if they are not detected and treated in time. In the current research, three advanced methods are developed in order to obtain a better understanding of the formation mechanism of RCF defects and, especially, squats in rails.

Read the full thesis here.

Master Studies

Bastian Schick from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

A Digital Test Bench for Pneumatic Brakes. Simulating the Braking Behaviour of Freight Trains

This master’s thesis covers the structuring and implementation of a digital test bench for the air brake system of freight trains. The test bench will serve to further improve the existing brake models used by the Driver Advisory System CATO. The work is based on the research of the technical background, as well as a modular implementation of the test bench. This allows the simulation of trains with length and vehicle arrangement adapted to the user’s specific needs, using the European UIC brake system. The pneumatic simulation is based on an equivalent electric circuit model which is completed with nozzle flow modelling. The depiction of the pneumatic brake system behaviour is mostly accurate in the operational scenarios, which is validated with measurement data.

Read the full thesis here.

Florin Bădău from POLITEHNICA University of Bucharest, Romania

Electronic simulator for relay interlocking (ESRI)

The topic of this master thesis is the design, testing and implementation of a small model railway operated by an existing relay interlocking mosaic control panel. The functions of a real relay interlocking are simulated in LabVIEW. The model railway may be operated entirely from the digital application or from the physical mosaic control panel. Basic interlocking functions simulated include the definition and cancelling of routes, track occupancy detection and artificial release of routes. New functions allow the user to monitor the state of each virtual relay and the inspection of signals. The simulator may be expanded in the future with additional functions or by increasing the scale of the model.