Research Fellow in Railway Track Infrastructure

University of Southampton - Faculty of Engineering and the Environment

The Faculty of Engineering and the Environment has an opportunity for a researcher to join a world-leading team developing low-maintenance, long-life railway track systems. The post, funded for 2.5 years, has been primarily created to develop, carry out and interpret data from field monitoring programmes. There could also be opportunities to carry out laboratory testing and to develop numerical models.  More information on the related research can be found at

Monitoring the performance of live railway tracks may be carried out in a number of different ways. Selection of appropriate sensors/techniques and logging systems depends on the objectives of the monitoring and site access conditions. Sensors/techniques commonly used include accelerometers, geophones, pressure cells, high speed filming with digital image correlation, multi-depth deflectometers, strain gauges and shape arrays. Selection of appropriate sensors and logging systems requires an understanding/appreciation of the anticipated local track system performance. Deployment of systems also requires an appreciation of the safety procedures for working on railways.

Over a number of years the University of Southampton has developed systems for field deployment at railway sites but we are always looking to further develop our offering and to improve the quality and breadth of measurements to gain improved insights into railway track system performance. Our field deployments usually focus on particular “problem” sites, e.g. level crossings, transition zones, S & C and bridge expansion zones.

The role would be within both the geomechanics and infrastructure research groups with the focus of the monitoring on the interaction between the superstructure (e.g. rails and sleepers) and the substructure (ballast and other soil layers). Your role would be to work within a team of existing researchers and to take a leading role in further developing the existing field monitoring systems, for example, by trialling/developing the use of new generations of sensors. One particular strand of development would be the use of 

lower cost MEMs sensors. Interpretation of the monitoring data is usually carried out in Matlab using signal processing tools. The role requires having or developing a working knowledge of filtering techniques (e.g. Butterworth type filters) and being confident to assess data in the frequency domain (following the use of Fourier Transforms). The role requires having or being willing to develop an appreciation of the effects of filtering, the role of oversampling and the likely operational ranges encountered of particular sensors based on simple numerical and/or analytical models of track system behaviour. Interpretation of the results requires an appreciation of structural mechanics and soil mechanics.

Applications will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification* and experience in civil engineering or a related area. 

Informal enquiries to Rod Anderson, Rail Centre Coordinator, email telephone +44 (0)23 8059 3960.

Application Procedure

You should submit your completed online application form by clicking the 'apply' button below. The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above.If you need any assistance, please call Georgie Warren (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 7749. Please quote reference 902617AT on all correspondence. 

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