The IN2ZONE research project will design and test a prototype next generation transition zone solution that provides a step-change in track support conditions, resulting in a reduction in maintenance interventions. The new solution will combine the newest existing transition solutions with technological advances from other sectors, including recent advances in material science. This interdisciplinary approach will improve both the track super-structure and sub-structure designs, thus ensuring the whole system stiffness is optimised. To increase lifespan, advanced automatic irregularity correcting sleepers will be designed, that are synthetic and optimised for transition zones. This will enable the transition zone solution to self-correct minor vertical track geometry irregularities/faults. Further, the solution architecture will be modular to ensure the benefits are realised in minimal time.
The new design will be optimised using the latest advances in discrete and finite element numerical simulation tools, coupled with computational fluid dynamics. The concept will then be constructed and tested at large-scale in an accelerated track testing laboratory facility. This gives a rare and valuable opportunity to develop and test the transition zone solution installation, maintenance and decommissioning, while also assessing long-term settlement behaviour.
In addition to the new design, an advanced resilience-based monitoring specification for transition zones will be developed, which will fuse data from multiple track, vehicle and satellite sensors, using edge computing and artificial intelligence to achieve an Industry 4.0 approach for just-in-time maintenance.
IN2ZONE’s pan-European consortium comprises 7 stakeholders covering all areas of expertise necessary to execute the project, including three companies, two research Universities, one Infrastructure Manager and one Rail Association.