PhD Studentship: Railway Electrification in the Era of Smart Grids

University of Birmingham - School of Engineering

Electrification of the railway allows for faster, greener, more reliable train journeys, improves passenger services and supports economic growth in Britain. These are because electric trains are faster and quieter than diesel trains and have a much reduced carbon emissions. Therefore, significant investments are currently ongoing around the world to increase the proportion of electrified railways. This will lead inevitably to an increase of the demand of railway traction power supplies, which are single-phase ac and, hence, undesirable for the public grid. It is likely that in the future a large proportion of electric railway will require static compensators to meet the requirements on the negative phase sequence, which are due to become even more stringent in the future for the higher penetration of renewable energy sources. It is therefore essential that future electric railways are better integrated with the power grid, rather than be seen as a simple unbalanced load. This could be done by introducing power electronics for the traction power supplies, energy storage and new data management systems for the intelligent interconnection with the public grid.

This project investigates new advanced power converters for traction power supply guaranteeing balanced current on the three-phase public grid and a high level of interconnection with energy storage, also providing ancillary services. The research will be based on modelling of the converters and the control, numerical simulations of a typical train line and experiments on a small-scale hardware demonstrator.

The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education is a worldwide leading institution for railway research and education, with over 130 academics, researchers and professional support staff. The successful candidate will work in the Power and Energy Group, which is a fast growing research group with outstanding international reputation and close relationships with the rail industry and will be expected to start by 1st of October 2017.

Prospective students should hold, or expect to achieve by September 2017, at least a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in a relevant technical subject and should be eligible for H/EU fees.

Initial enquiries to: Dr Pietro Tricoli Tel: 0121 414 3518, email: or Professor Clive Roberts Tel: 0121 414 4306, email:

University of Birmingham, Centre for Railway Research and Education Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering , Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT

Additional Funding Information
Project funding will cover an annual stipend of £14,553, plus Home/EU fees of £4,195 per annum.

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Midlands of England