PhD Studentship in Vibration & Impact Monitoring of Tram Operations

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering

Closing date: 28 February 2017

Groundborne vibration is a major concern for railway operators, due to the disturbance caused in nearby buildings and the potential for accelerated deterioration of track infrastructure. Project VIMTO concerns a form of track monitoring that uses the vehicles themselves as the primary instrument. Vehicle-mounted instrumentation is being used to automatically record axle vibration signatures, along with positioning and speed data, to map a railway network in terms of rail roughness (the primary cause of vibration). Such mapping aims to offer continuous, real-time, Web-based monitoring, enabling the formulation of a more efficient, optimised maintenance strategy that reduces vibration as well as costly track failures.

The project builds upon a 6-month EPSRC Partnership Development Award in collaboration with Transport for the West Midlands, who are supplying one of the trams of Birmingham Metro for the research.  The objectives of the Studentship focus on the development of appropriate signal-processing techniques for the production of a live map of rail condition, and to establish the long-term relationships required for predicting rail deterioration.  The research will involve the use of:

  • analytical and/or empirical models of wheel-rail dynamic response;
  • novel signal-processing techniques to compensate for vehicle speed, separate rail- and wheel-induced vibration, and characterise underlying roughness as well as discrete transient features;
  • conventional, manual track measurements for validation purposes.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a 1st class, or high 2:1, honours degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in an Engineering or related subject. The multidisciplinary nature of the project requires a candidate who is willing to learn new techniques over and above their core expertise, for example, in Dynamics and Signal Processing. 

Initial, informal enquiries may be made to Dr James Talbot (

This EPSRC funded studentship is available for Home and EU students. Home students and  certain EU students will receive a full studentship including fees and Maintenance. EU students will receive a fees only award. Details on eligibility can be found of EPSRC Web site: overseas students are not eligible and should not apply

Applications should be made on-line via the Cambridge Graduate Admissions Office before the deadline: with Dr James Talbot identified as the potential supervisor

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

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