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Increased rainfall and faster trains: ensuring future railway tracks remain stable in our changing climate

PGR-P-607

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Saturday 29 February 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Funding
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Supervisors
Dr David Connolly and Dr David Dawson
Additional supervisors
Dr Cathryn Birch
Schools
School of Civil Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Climate change is having an unprecedented impact on the world&rsquo;s railway lines due to increased rainfall. This is particularly important for the rail industry because many rail embankments are 5 times more permeable than highway embankments. This is because their construction pre-dated modern soil compaction methods. Currently it is possible to assess earthwork stability in the presence of changing water levels while ignoring the effect of train loading. However, train passages induce significant energy into track-earthwork structures, often resulting high strain levels. This is a safety concern because this energy can increase the risk of collapse, at the exact moment when the train is directly above the at-risk track section. Therefore the railway industry needs a method to assess the effect of predicted precipitation trends on the tracks, in the presence of combined static and dynamic loading. To achieve this, this project will combine the latest rainfall projections, estimated ground saturations and a cutting-edge railway track model, to determine the effect of saturation on dynamic track-earthwork behaviour during train passage. Therefore it will, for the first time, directly link climate change to railway infrastructure design. To do so, high-resolution climate model simulations of the future climate and the latest lower resolution multi-model ensembles, will be combined with an existing 3D railway track-earthworks model. The hybrid model will be able to approximate the increase in saturation of sections of the UK&rsquo;s rail earthworks, and using this data, determine the increased risk of track failure during train passage. The project is timely because of the huge global investment in both climate change and railways.

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

<p>The project will have active collaboration with the new Institute of High Speed Rail and System Integration at the University of Leeds: <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-48938252">https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-48938252</a></p> <p>Please visit&nbsp;<a href="https://climate.leeds.ac.uk/">Priestley International Centre for Climate</a>&nbsp;for further information.</p>

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.leeds.ac.uk/rsa/prospective_students/apply/I_want_to_apply.html">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Increased rainfall and faster trains: ensuring future railway tracks remain stable in our changing climate&rsquo; as well as <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/civil-engineering/staff/1204/dr-david-p-connolly">Dr David Connolly</a> as your proposed supervisor.</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>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<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><span lang="EN-US" style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size:11.0pt; line-height:115%; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">This is a 3 years scholarship funded by the University of Leeds through the Priestley International Centre for Climate. </span><span lang="EN-US" style="background:white; color:#4a4a4a; font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size:11.0pt; line-height:115%; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:Arial; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">The award </span><span lang="EN-US" style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif; font-size:11.0pt; line-height:115%; mso-ansi-language:EN-US; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-language:AR-SA; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-language:EN-US; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin">will provide tuition fees (&pound;4,500 for 2019/20), tax-free stipend at the UK research council rate (&pound;15,009 for 2019/20), and a research training and support grant of &pound;750 per annum</span></p>

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

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk">phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk</a>&nbsp;or by telephone:&nbsp; + 44 (0) 113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project , please contact Dr David Connolly by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="mailto:D.Connolly@leeds.ac.uk">D.Connolly@leeds.ac.uk</a></p>


<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>
<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>