IRR engineers going underground down under

Engineers from the Institute of Railway Research are helping to ensure that a prestigious new railway tunnel project in Australia will deliver safety and reliability.

The University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Rail Research (IRR) has been collaborating with CYP Design & Construction (CYP D&C) on the Metro Tunnel Project in Melbourne.

CYP D&C is a joint venture comprising construction companies Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues Construction contracted to deliver the tunnels and stations for the Metro Tunnel Project, the biggest public transport infrastructure project in Victoria’s history.

The IRR has recently completed a 12-month project to develop a wheel-rail interface study for the Metro Tunnel Project’s twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels, which are being built beneath Melbourne’s city centre including a section below the Yarra River near the city’s famous Flinders Street station.

The project aims to ensure that the new tunnel is designed with a safe, optimised and maintainable wheel-rail interface, ensuring reliable operation when the tunnel opens in 2025.

The work has included developing maintenance and friction management strategies, and saw IRR engineers making a number of visits to Australia to work with CYP D&C and their stakeholders to undertake depot and on-track data collection.

A map of the new tunnels underneath MelbourneMelbourne’s new rail tunnels run across the city and include a ‘crossing’ of the Yarra River as well as five new stations

Comprehensive rail and vehicle models of the new rolling stock were developed, and designed track alignment and structure were also developed. Over a thousand computer simulations were performed with these models to predict how wear would develop over time, and a maintenance model was developed to optimise the rail life and rail grinding requirements.

“It was really exciting to be involved at this stage in such a large infrastructure project, ” says IRR Assistant Director Julian Stow.

“We are delighted that CYP D&C selected the IRR to undertake this work. Considering the performance of the wheel-rail interface early in the project ensures that all possible measures are taken at the design stage, so that asset life will be maximised.”

“This is particularly important on a high frequency service such at the Metro Tunnel, where assets are intensively used and opportunities for maintenance are limited.” adds IRR Principal Engineer David Crosbee.

“Undertaking detailed modelling at the design stage allowed CYP D&C to understand the likely maintenance requirements and gain confidence in the performance of their design.”

CYP D&C Technical Services Manager Robert Schweiger says, “We chose the IRR to undertake this work because of their proven outcomes, blending theoretical modelling with practical experience in designing and validating the wheel rail interface and rail lubrication strategies for a range of international railway clients.”

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