Switches and crossings make up 5% of the UK’s railway lines.
They are its most costly component, requiring continual monitoring and maintenance for wear and tear, with the average cost of unit replacement reaching £500,000.
However a project carried out by a team of professionally registered engineers at Network Rail has led to a new methodology that predicts and pinpoints damage long before it actually occurs.
It involves the computational modelling of wheel-rail contact - both normal and tangential - in order to accurately predict contact pressure distribution for each of the 200 different switch and crossing designs in the network.
Ian Coleman, an Institution of Mechanical Engineers chartered engineer at Network Rail, managed the project full-time.
The members of Ian’s team were all professionally registered, as a variety of technical skills developed through our Continuous Professional Development (CPD) process were integral to the project.
It has resulted in the production of a new contact detection algorithm capable of identifying multiple points of contact for any general wheel and rail combination. Registration also proved vital for liaising with third parties, as it acted as a standard against which they could easily benchmark the competencies of Ian and his team.
Across all levels, the company is committed to growing its proportion of registered engineers. It is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of employee qualifications, focusing in particular on offering unregistered engineers with 10 or more years’ experience the chance to undertake professional registration with us.
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