Research

The Very Light Rail Innovation Centre will focus on research and development, as well as testing of new ideas in order to develop sustainable cost effective solutions. We will have open research labs creating an environment where the VLR industry can develop. Activity will be based around on the themes of: lightweighting; energy storage; propulsion; dynamics; civil & infrastructure; command, control and communications; and passenger experience.

Lightweighting
  • Materials optimisation
  1. Determining what the optimal component design is, depending on the material to be implemented
  2. Determining the optimal material to manufacture components and how it affects structure properties
  3. Investigating methods of fabricating optimised structures with reduced cost
  • Reducing mass in order to reduce costs/carbon footprint, improve customer experience and capacity
  • New materials, combinations
Energy Storage
  • Accelerated ageing testing
  • Lower materials costs
  • Higher energy density
  • Higher power density
  • Improved safety
  • Lower manufacturing costs
  • Improved cycle life
Propulsion
  • Knowledge transfer from automotive & off-road sectors
  • New drive train development and testing
  • Focus on sustainability
  • Hybrid energy storage system for increased efficiency
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Predictive energy management knowing route and stopping stations
  • Optimised regenerative braking
  • Powertrain optimisation methodology for a VLR powertrain incorporating packaging, weight, cost, reliability, as well as performance and CO2
Dynamics
  • Providing space for testing, focusing on simulation of vehicle behaviour
  • Improved vehicle dynamic behaviour
  • Improved traction and braking performance
  • Improved passenger comfort
  • Reduced track damage
  • Improved vehicle reliability and availability
  • Reduced vehicle and track maintenance costs
Civil & Infrastructure
  • Investigating different forms of track alignment structures
  • Optimisation of VLR track designs for reduced noise and vibration
  • Lightweight and durable bridge designs for very light rail tracks
  • Strengthening of existing structures using advanced polymer composites
  • Assessment of existing structures
  • Condition monitoring of structures
  • Design and construction of integral bridges
  • Protective design engineering, blast effects on structures
  • Application of new materials and prefabrication in structural engineering
  • Geomechanics of railway ballast and ballasted track
  • Geotechnical engineering
Command, Control & Communications
  • Validation and verification of software-based command, control and communications
  • Driver advisory systems
  • Human aspects of command and control
  • Suspensions (passive and active) and intelligent braking systems
  • GPRS/3G data logging and control
Passenger Experience
  • Focus on visualisation
  • Service specification and effect on demand
  • Human aspects of passenger needs
  • Dynamic seat reservation
  • Passenger wayfinding
  • Provision of real-time information