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U.S. Rail Comparison
Feburary 10, 2016

NURail's featured video for February is Dr. Pasi Lautala discussing "Where does America stand in relation to the rest of the world when talking about rail?". Pasi is an Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University and has been the Director of the Rail Transportation Program there since October 2007. He is also the Associate Director for Education of NURail.

Equitable TOD in Chicago
Feburary 5, 2016

An equitable transit-oriented development (TOD) program is critical to the growth of metropolitan Chicago. Learn more about TOD tools and tactics developed by the Metropolitan Planning Council February 18 at a Spring 2016 Seminar Series event hosted by the Urban Transportation Center. The presentation will be led by MPC manager Yonah Freemark and is open to all. The event begins at noon and will be held in CUPPA Hall Room 110. Visit HERE.

Michigan Tech’s Youth Summer Rail Program
Feburary 3, 2016

NURail Partner, Michigan Technological University, is accepting applications for the 7th Annual Rail and Intermodal Transportation Summer Youth Program on July 17 – 23, 2016 in Houghton, MI. This program is sponsored by the NURail Center and is a weeklong investigation designed to create awareness and stimulate interest in the areas of rail and intermodal transportation. Student in grades 9 – 11 are encouraged to apply and scholarships are available. Applications are due by May 1.

NURail Student Awards
January 20, 2016

Chris Barkan with Alexander Lovett

Sam Levy, Joe Sussman and Maite Pena Alcaraz

Three NURail students were spotlighted with awards on January 9, 2016 during the CUTC Awards Banquet at the Transportation Research Board Meeting in Washington, DC. Alexander Lovett, a graduate research assistant in the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), received the NURail Center 2015 Student of the Year award. His research on better planning and scheduling railway track maintenance addresses a key concern as higher-speed passenger trains operate more frequently on the same track infrastructure as heavy-axe-load freight trains.

Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students received Wootan Awards for best theses in policy and planning. Sam Levy and Maite Pena Alcaraz, both of whom were supported by NURail funding and studied under NURail partner, Professor Joseph Sussman, were recognized. Sam won in the Master’s category for his MST thesis entitled Capacity Challenges on the California High-Speed Rail Shared Corridors: How Local Decisions Have Statewide Impacts and Maite won in the PhD category for her ESD PhD thesis entitled Analysis of Capacity Pricing and Allocation Mechanisms in Shared Railway Systems.

Announcing NURail Videos
January 12, 2016

To continue our outreach effort, each month in 2016 we’ll release a new short video with a member of our NURail leadership team answering one of a variety of questions about the railroad industry. In addition, videos are being added throughout our website where appropriate. This month we’ll start by talking with Dr. James L. McKinney, Roland Hutchins Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Jim will be discussing why a student should consider rail as a future career.

Click HERE for more news.

Featured Project


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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

See more

Upcoming Events


Feb 18 2016

Room 110, 412. S. Peoria St., Chicago, IL
Equitable Transit Oriented Development

Mar 11 - 12 2016
Apr 12 - 15 2016

Columbia, SC
2016 JRC

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) 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