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Magazine Features NURail Affiliate Member’s Rail Program
April 25, 2016

The Winter 2016 issue of the Penn State Altoona magazine, Ivy Leaf, features an eight page article about their new Rail Transportation Engineering program. Established in 2011, the program graduated its first class in May 2015. Penn State Altoona is a NURail Affiliate Member and is the first and only college in the country to offer a bachelor of science degree in rail transportation engineering. Click here to read the article.

Save the Date!
April 21, 2016

Mark your calendars now for three upcoming Michigan Tech programs. First is the Rail and Intermodal Transportation Summer Youth Program which will take place the week of July 17-23. This is an opportunity for high school students to explore the rail industry and its connections with other transportation modes. More detailed information is available on their website at http://www.rail.mtu.edu/event/rail-and-intermodal-transportation-summer-youth-program-2016. If you know of a youth who is interested in trains let them know immediately because the deadline for applications is May 2, 2016.

The second event is the 4th Annual Michigan Rail Conference which will be held in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan this year. Save the date for August 17-18 and join Michigan Tech for a full day Wednesday centered on railroad issues across the state, followed by Thursday’s field trip spanning half of the UP. For registration, more information and partnership, please visit the conference web site at http://www.rail.mtu.edu/event/4th-annual-michigan-rail-conference.

The last date to know is September 22 – 23 for the Michigan Tech Rail Day and Expo and 12th Annual Railroad Night. As an on-going tradition for the last decade, the 12th Annual Railroad Night will start with activities on the evening of the 22nd, bringing together rail industry representatives, Michigan Tech students, staff, and faculty, and members of the local community. Rail Day, with its rail industry displays designed to inform the student body about opportunities in the industry and motivate them to seek jobs with industry companies and with sessions showcasing the rail research and education at Michigan Tech, is on Friday, the 23rd. For more information, registration and sponsorship, visit http://www.rail.mtu.edu/event/3rd-annual-rail-day-and-student-expo.

NURail Represented at JRC
April 18, 2016

NURail associated faculty and students attending the 2016 JRC

The 2016 Joint Rail Conference (JRC) was held this year in Columbia, SC on April 12 – 15, 2016. In two special JRC sessions, twelve NURail students and faculty, representing both partner and affiliate schools, gave short presentations. This is the fourth year in a row for NURail to highlight their research and education activities at JRC.

NURail Student Receives Outstanding Student Award
April 11, 2016

University of Kentucky student, Mr. Macy Purcell, has been selected as the recipient of UK’s College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Outstanding Master’s Student. The award consists of an engraved plaque and a cash award. He will be honored at the College of Engineering Awards Reception scheduled for Monday April 25, 5:30-7:30 pm in the Hilary J. Boone Center. Macy is actively pursuing his MSCE degree in Civil Engineering and will complete requirements in the Fall 2016 semester. He has also co-authored six research reports/technical papers during the past two years. Macy has been involved with collaborative research projects with the University of Tennessee and the University of Illinois through the NURail Center. These projects have involved both experimental laboratory testing and in-track instrumentation and testing of railway trackbeds.

High-Speed Rail
April 7, 2016

NURail's featured video for April is Dr. Joseph M. Sussman discussing high-speed rail. Dr. Sussman is the JR East (East Japan Railway Company) Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division at MIT where he has served as a faculty member for over 47 years. He is also the director of the Regional Transportation Planning and High-Speed Rail Research Group. Dr. Sussman’s research in railroads has had a major impact on the industry in the United States and abroad with several prize-winning papers.

Next William W. Hay Seminar
March 21, 2016

The next William W. Hay Seminar will be presented by Marco Eibenschutz from Italcertifer on Friday, April 1 at 12:20 pm (Central). He will be speaking on "ERTMS/ETCS L2 - Issues and Challenges in the Certification Process". Click here for login information. The first Hay Seminar of the Spring 2016 semester was held on March 4. David Lange, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented on the topic of "Freeze-Thaw Durability of Concrete Crossties". Last week, Dave Davis from TTCI presented on “Advanced Designs to Improve the Performance of Special Trackwork”. To listen to the recordings of these seminars, see the Hay Seminar page.

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Featured Project


Railway Operations Class

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Increasing the number and diversity of rail focused courses is an important step in rebuilding America’s railway education infrastructure. Currently, most college level rail courses are on railway civil engineering topics. A new course jointly developed by the Universities of Tennessee and South Carolina addresses railway operations. Providing engineering students with a better understanding of operations can improve infrastructure design and maintenance practices. The course also attracts business students interested in a career in railway management. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Amtrak’s Productivity in the Northeast Corridor: Past and Future

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Productivity analysis, the relationship between outputs and inputs in any given process, is used to evaluate the performance of the main passenger rail services in the Northeast Corridor during FY 2002--‐2012 and to make inferences about high--‐speed rail for the next 30 years. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Capacity Challenges on the California High-Speed Rail Shared Corridors: How Local Decisions Have Statewide Impacts

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In 2012, as a cost-control measure and in response to local opposition in the San Francisco Bay Area, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) adopted a "blended system" at the north and south bookends of the planned first phase of its high-speed rail line. The decisions made on the local blended corridor level will affect both the financial viability of the overall project and the quality of service experienced by customers across the entire California rail system. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Consequence Evaluation of Liquid Hazardous Material Release Using GIS Flow Modeling

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Increasing petroleum crude oil traffic by rail in North America and several recent severe release incidents highlight the need to further improve railroad transportation safety. Accurate estimation of the consequence of a release incident is key element in risk assessment. Previous methodologies may be overly simplistic or not appropriate to model liquid hazardous material releases. This research aims to address this gap and provide a specific methodology for evaluating the consequence of liquid hazardous material releases. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Shared Rail Corridor Adjacent Track Accident Risk Analysis

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

There are several safety concerns associated with operating passenger and freight trains on shared-use rail corridors (SRC). Adjacent track accident (ATA) mainly refers to a train accident scenario where a derailed equipment intrudes adjacent tracks, causing operation disturbance and potential subsequent train collisions on the adjacent tracks. This study presents a semi-quantitative risk analysis model to evaluate the ATA risk incorporating various factors affecting train accident rate, intrusion rate, train presence rate, and accident consequences. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Causal Analysis of Passenger Train Accidents on Freight Rail Corridors

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

A number of economic, technical and political factors have limited the development of new, dedicated, very-high-speed rail systems in North America. Consequently, most, near-term development of improved or expanded passenger rail service in the U.S. involve use of existing railroad infrastructure or rights of way. Comprehensive understanding of train accidents on shared-use corridors is critical for rational allocation of resources to reduce train accident risk. This study presents the initial results to understand what the most important contributors are to the risk of train accidents on shared-used rail corridors. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Railway Operations Class

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Increasing the number and diversity of rail focused courses is an important step in rebuilding America’s railway education infrastructure. Currently, most college level rail courses are on railway civil engineering topics. A new course jointly developed by the Universities of Tennessee and South Carolina addresses railway operations. Providing engineering students with a better understanding of operations can improve infrastructure design and maintenance practices. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Nonlinear Track-Railroad Vehicle Interaction

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

This investigation describes a new nonlinear formulation based on the absolute nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF) for modeling the dynamic interaction between rigid wheels and flexible rails. The generalized forces and spin moments at the contact points are formulated in terms of the absolute coordinates and gradients of ANCF finite elements used to model the rail. To this end, a new procedure for formulating the generalized ANCF applied moment based on a continuum mechanics approach is introduced. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Automatic Method for Detecting and Categorizing Railcar Wheel and Bearing Defects

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

This project will focus on automatically detecting flat-spotted wheels from thermal imagery using computer vision methods. In addition to that, we introduce a novel algorithm to detect hot bearings. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Elasto-Viscoplastic Modeling of Rail Ballast and Subgrade

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Settlement of Rail Ballast and Subballast is a major issue in the rail industry. In this research, we develop a three-invariant soil model capable of simulating the settlement of soil under repeated loads. This model can be incorporated into finite element analysis of soils under the dynamic motions of trains. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Coupled Rail-Ballast-Subgrade Analysis of Train Dynamics

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In this project, we develop an integrated multibody dynamics and finite element model that include wheel-rail contact and deformation of the rail, fasteners, ties, ballast, sub-ballast and subgrade. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Structural Adhesive Behavior – Experimental and Computational Study

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In this brief, an experimental and computational study aiming to investigate the structural adhesive behavior at different loading scenarios is presented. The objectives of this research are: i) investigate the behavior of structural adhesive by characterizing their mechanical properties, and ii) establish a representative material model that can mimic their behavior and can be used in numerical models for computational studies. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Switch Geometry Modeling using ANCF

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The objective of this work is to develop a new finite element based procedure for representing surface geometry in MBS contact problems. This procedure ensures a certain degree of continuity at the element interface, thereby allowing for more accurate predictions of kinetics results that include the contact forces. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Study of Liquid Sloshing using a Multibody Approach

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The objective of this investigation is to develop a total Lagrangian liquid sloshing solution procedure based on finite element floating frame reference (FFR) formulation and absolutely nodal coordinate formulation (ANCF). Click here to read the detailed brief.

New Semester Course in Railway Terminal Design & Operations

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

In the new Railway Terminal Design & Operations course (CEE 598 RTD) developed as a NURail education project, students learn details of the design, operations planning, management, and optimization of the terminal facilities required for the railway network to function as an efficient freight transportation system. The focus is on design of classification yards, intermodal facilities and bulk terminals, and how these facilities are organized into a network to provide different types of freight transportation service by rail. Click here to read the detailed brief.

"Grow Our Own" Minority STEM Initiative: Partnering in Outreach

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The railroad programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-­‐Champaign and Michigan Technological University are supporting efforts led by Hanson Professional Services, a civil engineering consulting firm headquartered in Springfield, IL, to expose underrepresented groups to railway engineering and “grow our own” next generation of civil engineering leaders. Program coordinators at Hanson work with nearby schools and local organizations to identify minority students in the Springfield community with an interest in STEM topics. Students are then matched with appropriate programs to foster their interest. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Summer Youth Program in Rail and Intermodal Transportation

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Since 2010, Michigan Technological University has offered a Summer Youth Program (SYP) in Rail and Intermodal Transportation. The program hosts a diverse group of students in grades 9-11 representing 17 states. The structure of the program consists of classwork, tours, and hands-on activities. The mission statement of the program is "a collaboration to attract a new generation." Click here to read the detailed brief.

Railroad Engineering Education Symposium (REES) 2012

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The Railway Engineering Education Symposium (REES) is intended to foster the participation of university faculty in railway engineering with the goal of encouraging and supporting their interest in adding railway engineering content to their engineering courses and curricula. REES 2012 was held June 11-13, 2012 in Overland Park, KS at the Johnson County Community College (JCCC). REES 2012 presented basic railway education materials, but also added more advanced material targeted toward professors who returned to REES to deepen their understanding of the railroad industry. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Railroad Projects at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Three rail related projects were taken on as part of the year-long Senior Design Capstone class. Two rail projects were also part of the Freshman Design class. During the spring of 2014 students in the Railroad Engineering class designed and constructed a 60 foot section of track at the Wabash Valley Railroaders Museum. The track is used to display a WWII Pullman Troop Sleeper car. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Rail Highway Grade Crossing Roughness Quantitative Measurement Using 3D Technology

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

This research reports on the development of an accurate, low cost and readily deployable sensor capable of rapidly collecting a 3D surface model of a rail crossing in its present state. This is seen as a first step towards automating the crossing inspection process, ultimately leading to the quantification and estimation of future performance of rail crossing. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Quantifying Rail-Highway Grade Crossing Roughness: Accelerations and Dynamic Modeling

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Quality of surface is an important aspect affecting both the safety and performance of rail-highway grade crossings. No quantitative method currently exists to assess the condition of rail crossings in order to evaluate the performance of crossings and set a quantitative trigger for their rehabilitation. This research reports on the use of LiDAR to collect a 3D surface point cloud as input to a customized vehicle dynamic model. Click here to read the detailed brief.

Amtrak’s Productivity in the Northeast Corridor: Past and Future

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Productivity analysis, the relationship between outputs and inputs in any given process, is used to evaluate the performance of the main passenger rail services in the Northeast Corridor during FY 2002--‐2012 and to make inferences about high--‐speed rail for the next 30 years. Click here to read the detailed brief.

The Impact of Amtrak Performance in the Northeast Corridor

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

The performance of Amtrak’s Acela and Regional services in the Northeast Corridor is a topic that, while frequently discussed as substandard by some travelers, has received minimal attention in the compendium of open source research literature. This brief focuses on Amtrak’s Acela and Regional travel time performance in the last ten years (2005 to 2014). Click here to read the detailed brief.

Cross-Infrastructure Learnings for Alternative Bridge System Designs – A Case Study on the Hybrid Composite Bridge System

Concrete Crosstie Fastener project

Compared to traditional materials, the hybrid composite beam (HCB) system is lighter in weight and has great potential as a sustainable design solution due to the protective FRP outer shell. This investigation was limited to the evaluation of the in-service performance of an in-service HCB bridge constructed in Virginia. Click here to read the detailed brief.

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Upcoming Events


Who We Are


The NURail Center is a rail-focused seven-university consortium led by the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

We are a Tier-1 University Transportation Center (UTC) under the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research & Technology (OST-R) program working to improve and expand rail education, research, workforce development, and technology transfer.

Members of the consortium are:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Chicago
    College of Engineering
    CUPPA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michigan Technological University
University of Kentucky
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Contact


NURail Center
1239B Newmark Engineering Laboratory, MC-250
205 N. Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Tel: (217) 244-4999
Fax: (217) 333-9464
NURail-Center@illinois.edu