Start scientific research on climate-resistant railways

Start scientific research on climate-resistant railways

Over the next five years, ProRail, Deltares and TU Delft will conduct research on the behavior of moving trains on Dutch railway embankments. They signed the RESET Research Program Agreement in early October 2021.

Mobility will continue to grow in the coming years. This also has a huge impact on the railways. The tracks are largely on railway bridges. These are called track bodies, the raised surface under the track. Eighty percent of these railway foundations were built before 1920 with the knowledge, requirements, and skills of the time. However, over the years, train traffic has grown exponentially. In addition, trains are also heavier and faster. Thus, the load on railway bridges is much higher. This can lead to high maintenance costs, operational limitations, and sometimes accidents. Therefore, in some places it is necessary to introduce speed limits due to the low quality of the subsoil.

An insight into the railway network

Extensive trials will be conducted in the joint research programme. Through innovative computational methods and data science, the research team wants to gain insight into how to make the rail network climate-resilient. At the same time, it wants to contribute to the safe growth of railways. The research is a unique collaboration, with both basic and applied research. TU Delft contributes to theoretical knowledge. Deltares are good at translating models into practical applications. And ProRail looks at availability and reliability, for example. It is an integrated approach.

weatherproof rail

In addition, climate change affects the stability of railway dams. Consider, for example, severe weather with floods and severe floods. More knowledge is needed about the impact and influence of these factors. This makes it easier to locate the risks in the coming years. Appropriate measures will then enable the projected growth in mobility and the climate-resilient pathway.

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TU Delft has a great deal of knowledge about the effect of railway axles and ballast on the track and under the immediate surface. This makes it possible to analyze the entire system of track load and subsoil. Deltaris specializes in applied research in the field of water and soil. It uses its expertise in dam safety and its experimental and digital facilities. Deltares will translate the results of scientific research and TU Delft models into practical applications. More knowledge about the behavior of water in railway dams, the effect of dry spells and the way a moving train loads a railway bridge are examples that will be of interest in the research.


This innovative research represents a unique collaboration between TU Delft (Geotechnologies and Rail Technology), the business community and the Deltares Knowledge Institute. Eight PhD students will start work at TU Delft. Deltares provides a great deal of knowledge from previous research on the reliability and stability of Dutch flood defenses.

leading role

There is currently very little basic knowledge of the system in this field within Europe. Thus, the research is groundbreaking and can also help other countries with similar problems.

Source: ProRail, Deltares, TU Delft
Bild: Michael Gida via Pixabay

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