£1 million upgrade for HAROLD test rig at IRR

As a result of £1 million of capital funding provided through the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), the soon to be launched ‘HAROLD 2.0’, is a full-scale bogie test rig and is built upon the existing HAROLD facility opened at the IRR in 2016

A £1 MILLION upgrade is currently underway on the UK’s only full-size railway bogie test rig based at the Institute of Railway Research (IRR) at the University of Huddersfield and is to include the integration of a real-time train braking performance model as well as the capability to prove novel hybrid drivetrains and energy storage systems. This will allow the IRR to provide essential support to the railway industry in overcoming its wider decarbonisation and electrification challenges.

As a result of £1 million of capital funding provided through the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), the soon to be launched ‘HAROLD 2.0’, is a full-scale bogie test rig built upon the existing HAROLD facility opened at the IRR in 2016.

In the video the University unveils the new £4.5 million railway test rig.

Commissioned as the UK’s only full-size rig of its kind, it features a motored rolling road that can drive a wheelset of a standard gauge bogie at speeds up to 200kph, exerting real-world forces via its hydraulic actuation system.

In partnership with engineering consultants Ricardo, who are delivering the upgrade, the funding will provide significant enhancements to the facility’s functionality, including the integration of a real-time train braking performance model and a fully functional AC power bogie, comprising both friction and regenerative brake systems and complete traction package.

With over 100 years of engineering excellence, Ricardo prides itself on providing exceptional levels of expertise to deliver leading edge and innovative cross sector sustainable products and solutions, helping their global customers increase efficiencies, achieve growth and ‘to create a world fit for the future’.

“In helping realise predictable and optimised traction and braking performance,” explained Professor Paul Allen, Assistant Director of the IRR, “the HAROLD 2.0 test rig will contribute to delivering a safer, more reliable and higher capacity railway. Through testing and development of hybrid vehicle concepts, it will support the railway industry in overcoming its wider decarbonisation and electrification challenges,” he said.

HAROLD 2.0’s capabilities

By utilising the capability of hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) test methods, on-train systems including next-generation wheel-slide protection (WSP) and dynamic brake blending control, traction components will be able to be fully analysed. The test environment will have the ability to re-create whole-route traction and braking duty-cycles at speeds of up to 200kph, under a range of wheel-rail adhesion conditions, thereby providing an invaluable proving stage prior to on-track trials.

With provision for battery banks and fully configurable real-time models, the test rig will also provide the capability to prove novel hybrid drivetrains and energy storage systems, enabling hardware and software solutions to be trialled in a controlled but realistic environment.

The Director of the Institute of Railway Research Professor Simon Iwnicki gives a brief overview of the HAROLD bogie test rig at the University of Huddersfield.

Summary of enhancements

Train Braking:

  • Hardware and software development and proving of next generation WSP systems
  • Train brake blending controller optimisation (friction and electro-dynamic brakes)
  • Route-specific and brake duty-cycle testing to support vehicle acceptance
  • Provides a stepping-stone between desktop/bench-tests and on-track trials

Traction and Energy Systems:

  • Wheel-slip and traction management system development, problem solving and proving
  • Hybrid drivetrain and energy storage solution development and proving
  • Real-time energy storage models (e.g. battery and hydrogen fuel cell model-in-the-loop)
  • Whole-route energy cycle evaluation for proving hybrid drive solutions

HAROLD 2.0 is expected to be ready for operation by summer 2022, where it will join other recent UKRRIN funded investments, such as the PANTHER high-speed pantograph test rig and the THOMoS high-fidelity passenger comfort/motion simulator.

In the video Professor Simon Iwnicki gives a brief tour of the UKRRIN ‘THOMoS’ Train motion simulator.

World-leading research

The Institute of Railway Research has built up a worldwide reputation for its research into the interaction between railway vehicles and the track. It has used this improved knowledge to support the railway industry in the UK and around the world.

The Institute has participated in many projects with industry and academic partners which have led to significant developments, innovations and practical applications. This work has attracted major investments in world-class equipment.

At the start of 2019, the Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock was officially launched at the Institute, sharing a total of £90 million in funding, distributed among three Centres of Excellence, from the Government and from the private industry by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).

Later that same year the IRR was awarded the coveted Queen’s Anniversary prize “for research and development that has brought significant improvements to the railway industry.”

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