What We Can Offer
TRL's work in rail is adding to our reputation and enviable record of improving safety for transport infrastructure.
Our expertise encompasses many facets including passenger, user and worker safety, the road/rail interface, and full-scale and component impact testing, including evaluating seat configurations and examining crashworthy fittings.
Our video reconstruction suite and advanced visualisation facility focus specifically on incident scenes, reconstructed within minutes by TRL's laser scanning and imaging system. The scanner has been used at a number of major incidents, e.g. Ufton Nervet and Selby, enabling crash scenes to be re-created and assessed, providing crucial evidence to help discover the cause and sequence of events.
Specialist capabilities in accessibility, inclusive mobility, planning and safety for impaired and vulnerable transport users have been developed by TRL. Understanding accessibility issues often involves gathering and reviewing information from a complex set of contributing factors. TRL's capability to deliver thorough and insightful research draws from our diverse range of expertise which enables us to deliver a comprehensive approach in our accessibility research and consultancy. Click here for more information on TRL's capability in accessibility in the rail environment.
The interface between road and rail, particularly at level crossings, is of critical importance to the safe running of both networks. Currently, level crossing misuse by road users is the largest contributor to train accident risk on the mainline network. The safety of level crossings on the highway has been the subject of recent TRL work where our human factor expertise and the use of risk principles played an integral role. This was echoed in our work on train dispatch which looked to see if current practices were suitable and sufficient. Many different elements can combine to influence train dispatch, ranging from crowding levels on platforms to the way in which doors on a particular type of train operate.
Other work has:
- evaluated the suitability of retro-reflective signing materials for rail signals to help minimise the risk of driver error through failure to respond to mandatory signs
- investigated the different visual strategies used by train drivers in different scenarios and the cognitive processes behind these strategies. This has helped to inform changes to signal sighting times, the design of rail infrastructure both in and out of the train cab, and driver training.
Simulation provides a cost-effective tool for studying situations where risks and timescales associated with physical testing would be prohibitive.
TRL uses modelling software and finite element analysis codes for the study of crash dummies, human biomechanics and products such as passenger seating.
At a strategic level, TRL has a wealth of experience to offer, supplying technical advice in the drafting of standards and specifications, leading to improved infrastructure and maintenance works, with improved journey time reliability. With mature processes and systems developed for the UK road network, these skills can be transferred to the rail network, providing asset management models that offer carefully thought-out advice, analysis and planning, creating economic advantage and improved efficiency.
The rail sector is a major owner of civil engineering infrastructure in the UK. Network Rail alone has over 40,000 bridges, 17,000 retaining walls, 700 tunnels and over 25,000 km of earthworks. On a practical level, TRL has a great deal of experience in assessing the performance of structures such as these through field and laboratory investigations and, increasingly, by innovative remote monitoring techniques that minimise disruption to rail users.
In recent years, TRL has developed a risk-based method of determining the examination intervals for railway bridges, which will result in a more focused and efficient inspection programme of bridge stock. Currently, we're developing equipment and methods for collecting images of structures in a controlled and consistent way. These can then be automatically processed to assist in the detection and classification of defects.
TRL recognises and understands the impact the environment can have on travel plans. The predicted increase in severe weather episodes caused by climate change is likely to result in a higher incidence of landslips. TRL experts undertake geotechnical site investigations of embankments to help determine the level of risk and offer advice on remediation.
To help organisations reduce their carbon footprint and use, where possible, recycled or alternative materials, TRL offers a comprehensive environmental service: from strategy guidance and assessment, impact assessments and the development of environmental indicators through to testing and monitoring services for railway noise, vibration and air quality. This 'joined-up' approach aims to enhance environmental performance from improving policy through to influencing planning and delivery.
Intelligent transport system technologies can provide new and innovative improvements to railway infrastructure through the provision of 'intelligent infrastructure' capable of providing near-real-time or real-time condition monitoring. This intelligent infrastructure will provide the means to 'predict and prevent' by intervening at the appropriate time before asset failure. This will reduce the need for manual inspections, leading to the generation of a condition-based maintenance philosophy based on proactive intervention and maintenance at less disruptive times. The outcome? Improved train performance, maintenance productivity and safety and increased network capacity.