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Railway Research Group

UCL Railway Research Group conducts a wide range of research on railway operations, planning, and infrastructure system design and management. We work with numerous industry partners.

About

The UCL Railway Research Group is a part of UCL's Centre for Transport Studies. The group includes a wide range of researchers with different backgrounds, and focuses on various railway-related issues. We also run the Urban Railways MSc programme. 


We work closely with research institutes, and private and public organisations, both locally and internationally.  Our research and industrial partners include UK Department for Transport (DfT), Network Rail, Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), Transport for London (TfL), Atkins, Arup, Ricardo Rail, and many other European and international authorities and consultancies including Hong Kong MTR Corporation and East Japan Railway Company (JR-East). 

Please note, some of the links on this page are to external sites.

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Members

Academic Staff
Research Fellows
  • Janny Roan
  • Fang Xu 
PhD students
  • Jiping Fang
  • Samane Faramehr
  • Natchaya Lailomthong
  • Nattanon Luangboriboon
  • Ross Welhem
  • Joe Wright
Visitors
  • Rui Wang (Beijing Jiaotong University)
  • Yihui Wang (Beijing Jiaotong University)
  • Kangning Zheng (Beijing Jiaotong University)
  • Martin Šustr (University of Pardubice, Czech Republic, 2016)
  • Ziajia Wang (Beijing Jiaotong University, China, 2014-15)
  • Wei Shanguang (Beijing Jiaotong University, China, 2013-14)
  • Songyi Lin (Taiwan Railway Construction Bureau) 
Collaborators 
  • Sebastián Seriani Awad (Universidad des Los Andes, Chile)
  • Zijia Wang (Beijing Jiaotong University)
  • Xiafei Ye (Tongji University)
Team members
  • David Dobson (Transport for London)
  • Daniel Woodland (Ricardo Rail)
  • Monish Sengupta (Ricardo Rail)
  • Nick Brooks 
  • Taha Ghasempour

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Projects

DEDOTS: Developing and Evaluating Dynamic Optimisation for Train Control Systems

Summary

This project aims to develop algorithms that allow for an increase in the capacity at bottle necks on railway networks, namely at busy junctions and stations. Our focuses are:

  • To control speeds of trains that approach junctions, so that they arrive at junctions not only at the right times but also at the right speeds. Speed control of arriving trains is often neglected, but it can be beneficial to prevent trains from having to slow down more than necessary and then having to gain speed again when the movement authority is extended. By arriving at the right speed, junction clearance time can be shortened. This is particularly true for freight trains.
  • To improve sequence decision when two or more trains are competing for the same track. We aim to go beyond a standard approach where preassigned priority values are given to trains, and they are compared when multiple trains compete for the same track.  

We have been running this project since 2011. Following subsequent funding, we are now discussing the possibility of testing our algorithms in real trains.

An article in Railway Technology Magazine explains the DEDOTS project more.

More detailed outputs can be found at sparkrail.org (search for DEDOTS after logging in). 

Funder

Partners

Contact

Taku Fujiyama

Development of Passenger Movement Guidance and Management for Metro System

Project members

Summary

Metro systems around the world are facing the same problem associated with continuously growing demand. While modern signal systems could allow trains to run close to each other, passenger movements become key to achieving high frequency operation. For example, in order to achieve a 2 minute headway operation on a metro line, dwell time allowed at each station needs to be less than 25 seconds, and we need to have arrangements or systems in place to complete passenger movements accordingly.

Such passenger movement guidance/management should be regarded as part of the whole railway operation system, and thus coordination at the network level as well as integration with train traffic regulation systems are important.  

This topic is by nature multi-dimensional, and we have several projects on this topic:

  • Modelling Passengers' Car Choice on Metro Trains: This project develops models to predict how passengers choose their boarding cars. In contrast to existing approaches, we are using Origin-Destination data as well as train loadweigh data.   
  • Optimising Passenger Flow Control: This project considers optimisation of passenger flow controls at stations.   

Partners

London Underground

Contact

Taku Fujiyama

Platform Train Interface 

The Railway Research Group has been involved in a number of different studies related to the platform train interface in public transport systems.

These studies have been conducted at UCL's Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environmental Laboratory (PAMELA) with the collaboration of the UCL Accessibility Research Group (ARG) and the Resilience Research Group.

Journal publications

A list of recent journal publications is given below. If you require a copy of the full-text, please contact Sebastian Seriani by email.

YearTitle
2016Exploring the pedestrian level of interaction on platform conflict areas at metro stations by real-scale laboratory experiments
2016Impact of platform edge doors on passengers' boarding and alighting time and platform behavior
2015Effect of vertical step height on boarding and alighting time of train passengers
2015Investigating ramp gradients for humps on railway platforms 
2012Reduced dwell times resulting from train-platform improvements: The costs and benefits of improving passenger accessibility to metro trains
2011Evaluating accessibility enhancements to public transport including indirect as well as direct benefits
2010Influence of platform height, door width, and fare collection on bus dwell time

Conference publications

A list of recent conference publications is given below.

YearTitle
2016Estimation of the passenger space in the boarding and alighting at metro stations
2016Modelling passenger distribution and interaction on platform train interfaces
2016The boarding and alighting matrix on behaviour and interaction at the platform train interface 
2016The impact of platform edge doors on passengers boarding and alighting time and platform behaviour
2016Pedestrian level of interaction on platform conflict areas by real-scale laboratory experiments
2015Passenger boarding time, mobility and dwell time for High Speed 2
2012The effects of the design factors of the train-platform interface on pedestrian flow rates

Seminar and talk presentations 

Here you can find some presentations given at seminars.

YearTitle
2016Latest research and development into platform train interface strategy
2016The art of boarding and alighting
2016Pedestrian microsimulation in metro stations

PAMELA reports

If you need more information about the following experiments done at PAMELA, please contact Sebastian Seriani or Derrick Boampong, PAMELA laboratory manager.

YearTitle
2015The effect of PEDs on passenger movement time: PAMELA experiments
2013New Deep Tube Train: design features affecting boarding and alighting of passengers
2013Effect of vertical step height on boarding and alighting time of passengers
2008Investigation into train dwell time
2007Investigation into platform hump options
Development of an Implementation Framework for Rail Network Optimisation (iCASE)

Project members

Summary

The UK Rail Industry has been supporting several academic projects on network management, operation and optimisation in order to achieve the goals set out by the Railway Technical Strategy 2012. Whereas the academic projects provide theoretical bases, their Technology Readiness Levels are relatively low so that a gap lies between this academic work and its implementation by the industry. The railway industry wants to know how academic work can be implemented and how it can contribute effectively to their objectives. The present project, funded by Network Rail Ltd and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (UK), will fill this gap by developing a framework on the implementation of railway network optimisation work.

Funder

Partners

Network Rail (Dr Meena Dasigi)

Contact

Taku Fujiyama

Optimisation of Automatic Train Regulation on London Underground (EngD)

Project members

Summary

The Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy sets out the approach for achieving his vision that London's transport system should lead the world in its approach to tackling urban transport challenges of the 21st century. With key priorities up to 2017/18 including reducing transport’s contribution to climate change and improving its resilience, London Underground (LU) is seeking to reduce, and if possible eliminate, adverse environmental impacts, and maximise the use of energy efficient solutions. An Automatic Train Regulation (ATR) system is an essential part of meeting these objectives. By micro managing station dwells and train speeds, ATR systems can keep the railway running to timetable avoiding costly disruptions and delays. It is not only key to improving operational resilience, but can also be a major contributory factor to urban sustainability by improving energy efficiency, reducing tunnel temperatures and cutting carbon emissions by using coasting and regenerative braking. ATR is already installed on some lines, and about to be installed or procured on most of the others. However, the full potential of ATR is yet to be established. There are several types of ATR in existence, each with their own peculiar combinations of inputs, outputs, cost functions and scope of operation. Despite the huge potential benefits, there have so far been limited successes in the application of ATR control.

This study aims to improve the operational resilience and the energy-sustainability of Underground systems by optimising the configuration of present ATR systems and developing the specification of future ones. Specifically the objectives are: i) To analyse the use and configurations of existing ATR systems; ii) To develop ATR deployment strategies based on potential for savings in energy, time and money; iii) To test the strategies by simulation; iv) Advise on future direction for specification, purchase and deployment of ATR systems on LU. 

Funder

Partners

Transport for London (Mr. David Dobson)

Contact

Benjamin Heydecker

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Urban Railways MSc

Programme summary

Our MSc programme in Urban Railways aims to provide you with the new transferable skills and visionary-thinking capabilities required for the planning, operations and business management of 21st century urban railways, which are fundamentally different from their traditional counterparts.

The programme has extensive links to the urban railway industry. Your dissertation project will focus on real-world problems, and our industry collaborators can help you in various ways - for example data access, provision of industry insights, and placement opportunities. Lecturers show practical examples from around the world as well. 

You can also join our Urban Railway Camp, which includes site visits and dissertation training sessions on a residential course. Furthermore, you will have access to a wide range of novel urban railway research conducted within UCL Railway Research Group, potentially providing benefit for your dissertation project.

Apply

Find out more about Urban Railways MSc and apply

For further information, please contact programme director Dr Taku Fujiyama.

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PhD Opportunities

As a rapidly developing research group, we are always interested to hear from potential PhD candidates. Some of our students are funded by themselves, their companies or the governments of their countries, whilst we also obtain funding from our various partners to create PhD studentship projects. Funded PhD studentships are usually advertised in major media (e.g. on findaphd.com, plus in transport and railway-related mailing lists). Eligibility criteria does apply in most cases. Do check CEGE’s Scholarships and funding page for further information.

Advantages of undertaking your PhD with UCL Railway Research Group
Working with industry partners, including placement opportunities

We currently work with a wide range of industry partners (including London Underground, Network Rail, RSSB, First Group, Hitachi etc.), who provide us with datasets, guidance and placement opportunities. Such a close relationship with industry has the potential to increase your employability. Even if you wish to stay in academia, networks with industry people are always helpful as the railway is an application subject. Some of our former students have been offered employment through industry contacts. 

Access to Data

The UK Government has an open data policy, and major rail infrastructure companies and metro operators are publicly funded. This means that students have access to datasets which may be not available in other countries.  

Alumni support

Our group has its own alumni support. We stay in touch with our alumni and help each other after they complete their studies. Our recent alumni events have included an Academic Career Seminar for New Lecturers, and Receptions in China. 

Institutional Student Support

The UCL Doctoral School has an extensive list of free PhD student development courses. Our department has members of staff dedicated to research students, who are always happy to help. For self-funded students, we support conference attendance, and prepare equipment (e.g. IT equipment). In addition, UCL is proud of its culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration. You would be amazed to know how easy it is to talk to staff and students in other departments. 

Being in London

London is an exciting major global city where you hear many languages other than English on trains, buses and streets. Major companies are based in London and our geographical location is always advantageous in working with industry partners. The city never makes you bored and always offers opportunities for and outside your study. 

If you are interested in undertaking a PhD with our Railway Research Group, you should contact Dr Taku Fujiyama in the first instance to discuss the possibilities. 

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Archive

Previous projects

Cost Functions of Mixed Railway Operations and their Applications to Optimisation (iCASE)

Project members

Summary

This project aims to formulate a set of cost functions and apply them to mainline railway timetabling. The cost functions are used to measure various performance including train running times, punctuality, energy consumption, and operation capacity. The cost functions will be a function of relevant operational parameters including train schedule, allocation of crew and rolling stock resources. Potential source of data for calibration include passenger demand survey, rolling stock and crew operational logs, and network topology. In addition, the project team will also work with our industrial partners – Rail Safety Standard Board (RSSB) and Network Rail – to identify constraints encountered (e.g. safety requirement, working hours, availability of crew and rolling stock, etc) in planning and operations. The project considers mixed (fast/slow, local/national, passenger/freight trains) railway operations. Given the cost functions and operational constraints, multi-objective optimisation techniques are used to derive optimal train timetables and allocation of resources (e.g. crew and rolling stock) by explicitly considering the trade-off between different objectives. 

Funder

Partners

Rail Safety and Standards Board (Ms Catherine Baker) 

Contact

Andy Chow

Introducing Aerospace Materials to Rail (2011 - 2013)

Project members

  • London Underground (Project Leader)
  • Atkins Aerospace
  • National Composite Centre
  • Wabtec Rail
  • UCL (Nicole Badstuber and Taku Fujiyama)

Summary

This project aims to develop a commercially viable, lightweight, rail carriage door using state-of-the-art composite materials and manufacturing processes as a first step towards achieving the goal of introducing light-weight trains through technology innovation from the aerospace industry.

Funders

Partner

Technology Strategy Board (File ref: 101216) 

Contact

Taku Fujiyama

Cost Functions of Mixed Railway Operations and their Applications to Optimisation (iCASE)

Project members

Summary

This project aims to formulate a set of cost functions and apply them to mainline railway timetabling. The cost functions are used to measure various performance including train running times, punctuality, energy consumption, and operation capacity. The cost functions will be a function of relevant operational parameters including train schedule, allocation of crew and rolling stock resources. Potential source of data for calibration include passenger demand survey, rolling stock and crew operational logs, and network topology. In addition, the project team will also work with our industrial partners – Rail Safety Standard Board (RSSB) and Network Rail – to identify constraints encountered (e.g. safety requirement, working hours, availability of crew and rolling stock, etc) in planning and operations. The project considers mixed (fast/slow, local/national, passenger/freight trains) railway operations. Given the cost functions and operational constraints, multi-objective optimisation techniques are used to derive optimal train timetables and allocation of resources (e.g. crew and rolling stock) by explicitly considering the trade-off between different objectives. 

Funder

Partners

Rail Safety and Standards Board (Ms Catherine Baker) 

Knowledge exchange

Short Course: Introduction to Job Shop Scheduling Algorithms for Control of Railway Traffic Flows (2017)

Course description

With advancement of ICT as well as needs for capacity improvement, the railway industry is moving towards real-time traffic control. Job Shop Scheduling technique is a tool commonly used for this purpose. This course will introduce this technique in the context of the application in dynamic railway traffic optimisation. 

Since this is an introductory course, attendees do not need to have previous knowledge or experiences, and thus is suitable for those who are just interested in railway timetabling techniques in general. We welcome a wide range of people including practitioners working on railway traffic regulation and management, traffic control system developers, and research students who just started (or will start) their work on railway traffic control. 

The lecturers

  • Dr Andrea D’Ariano of Università degli studi Roma Tre is one of leading academics in this subject area. He has published more than 30 journal papers in dynamic railway traffic optimisation and his framework has been used by many other researchers as well as leading railway traffic system developers.
  • Dr Gemma Nicholson is currently a Research Fellow in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education. Her background is in mathematics and its application to a range of applied research problems. Gemma has worked on a number of railway projects using modelling, simulation and analysis techniques, with a particular interest in the performance evaluation of railway operations.
UCL Workshop on Efficiency and Reliability of Railway Operations (2014)

Summary

Advanced dynamic modelling and optimisation techniques offer new opportunities for improving capacity, reliability, and resilience of train operations. Following launch of the DEDOTS (Developing and Evaluating Dynamic Optimisation for Train Control System) project of UCL and University Birmingham, we are organising a one-day international workshop on dynamic optimisation of railway operations. 

The workshop aimed to:

  • provide a platform for academics and practitioners to exchange work and ideas on real-time railway operations;
  • identify key points, influencing factors and challenges in railway efficiency, resilience  and reliability management, and
  • develop an international network of academics and practitioners and explore future collaboration opportunities.

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UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities

Participants 

Academia 

University College London 
University of Birmingham 
University of Leeds 
Beijing Jiaotong University (China) 

Industry 

Network Rail 
Rail Safety and Standards Board 
London Underground 
MTR Corporation (Hong Kong)
East Japan Railway (Japan) 

UCL Workshop on Dynamic Control of Railway Traffic (2013)

Summary

This workshop is a part of our research project on dynamic responsive signal control for railway junctions. The workshop supports the UK rail industry’s Future Traffic Regulation and Optimisation Programme (FuTRO). The workshop was successfully complete. You can download the presentation files by clicking titles in the programme below. (For some presentations, we are still seeking permission for publication).    

The workshop aimed to:

  • understand the major ongoing work in both the industry and academia;
  • identify key points and challenges for the development of dynamic control systems, and
  • develop a network of academics and practitioners on this topic.

Funder

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