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Climate Change Vs. High Speed Railways


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Professor David Connolly
School of Civil Engineering
Research groups/institutes
Cities and Infrastructure
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

There has been minimal reduction in climate change emissions from domestic transport in the last three decades and it is the largest sector of emissions in the economy, at 27%. To meet Net Zero targets there is an urgent need to move towards sustainable forms of transport, meaning the demand on railway networks will intensify. However, climate projections predict future seasonal weather pattern changes which have the potential to seriously disrupt the railway network. This project will review a wide range of possible railway impacts due to climate change before performing an in-depth analysis on the topic.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:11px">Some railway engineering challenges associated with climate change include:</p> <p><strong>Increased saturation.</strong>&nbsp; Increased winter rainfall will result in increased water levels within the railway trackbed and subgrade.&nbsp; This will result in more rapid settlement of tracks, which will then require more frequent maintenance.&nbsp; Further, increased winter rainfall coupled with dryer summers will also cause more frequent shrink-swelling events in clay earthworks.&nbsp; This will reduce factors of safety thus increasing the risk of landslip.</p> <p><strong>Flooding.</strong>&nbsp; An increased frequency of high-impact rainfall events will result in more frequent trackbed and earthwork flooding.&nbsp; The same is true for costal flooding.&nbsp; These events will reduce the stability of railway assets and cause washouts.</p> <p><strong>Rail buckling.&nbsp;</strong> Modern railway tracks consist of long pieces of rail welded together.&nbsp; Temperature changes cause these rails to expand and contract.&nbsp; If they expand or contract too much then they can buckle or break, which is a serious safety issue for running trains.&nbsp; Increased seasonal climate changes are predicted to result in greater swings in temperature and therefore there is the risk of increased track buckling.</p> <p>To address these issues this project will review a wide range of possible railway impacts due to climate change.&nbsp; Based upon the review the candidate will identify their preferred area of climate change study and investigate it using a combination of numerical modelling and field data analysis.&nbsp; Due to the novelty of the research and model development, there is the opportunity to write multiple world-leading, international journal papers on the subject.&nbsp; Considering the international nature of the research, candidates will be expected to attend international conferences if required.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PhD Civil Engineering FT,</strong></em>&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Climate Change Vs. High Speed Railways</strong></em> as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Professor David Connolly</a> as your proposed supervisor&nbsp;and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for, if you are self-funding or externally sponsored</strong></em>.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 3 April 2024 for Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship or 8 April 2024 for Leeds Doctoral Scholarship:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants (open from October 2023). <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong> &ndash;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (now closed for 2024/25 entry). The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:</strong>&nbsp; Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <strong>not</strong> covered under these studentships.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about this project, please contact Professor David Connolly by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>