Specific Objectives

  1. Develop a technical specification for next generation transition zones without being restricted to current practices, while retaining key railway functionality.  Specification development will concentrate on technological advances from other sectors, however will also consider the newest existing transition solutions. It will identify new approaches that offer a step-change in performance, via reduced ballast settlement, and a smooth and optimal whole-system stiffness extending from natural sub-soil to the railhead.
  2. Develop a next generation transition zone modular architecture.  This will allow for straightforward installation, maintenance and decommissioning, particularly when upgrading existing transition zones. Therefore the benefits will be realised more rapidly compared to a non-modular system, and more easily integrated within complementary projects: S2R-CFM IP3-01-2020 and IN2TRACK
  3. Develop a self-correcting design for transition zones.  It will be capable of self-correcting minor vertical track geometry defects, thus reducing maintenance requirements
  4. Explore new materials for every key transition zone component and holistically optimise their properties to maximise performance. For example, new ways will be investigated to improve the ballast, using recent advances in ballast science, such as bitumen,organosilane, lignosulphonate and polyurethane binding agents, and rubber additives/inclusions.  Improvements in sleeper performance will be investigated by using synthetic materials which can be optimised for transition zones. Further, metamaterials will be investigated to minimise noise and vibration. The new materials explored will reduce maintenance requirements and environmental impact and carbon footprint whilst ensuring system resilience against climate change.
  5. Validate the new transition zone solution using laboratory testing.  This will allow for assessing the long-term settlement performance of the innovation and give insight into the expected maintenance intervals.
  6. Develop advanced numerical simulation tools to support the validation of the final transition zone designs for a range of applications. These will include discrete element (i.e. grain level) modelling to understand behaviour of different transition types: S&C, underbridges and changes in track construction
  7. Develop a resilience-based monitoring specification for transition zones.  It will ensure the final solution is completely self-inspecting.  Combined with the advanced design, it will be relatively maintenance free, however when maintenance is required, it will be just-in-time
  8. Validate the new transition zone solution using full-scale hardware-in-the-loop laboratory testing (TRL5/6).  This will allow for assessing the long-term settlement performance of the innovation and give insight into the expected maintenance intervals
  9. Develop LCC and RAMS performance models for the transition solution, and perform a full cost/benefit analysis.  This will include the effects of increased railway infrastructure capacity due to increased train speeds across transition zones.

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