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System integration for rail wheelset steering and traction control

EPSRC grant. Principle Investigator – Professor T X Mei

The suspension and guidance systems for the control of vehicle dynamics deal with issues such as vehicle stability, running behaviour and passenger ride comfort. These have been traditionally achieved through the use of passive components. However, active controls via mechatronic and electronic components can push the boundaries and achieve far beyond what is possible with mechanical suspensions. More recent research has shown that wheelsets can be controlled actively in a manner that the adverse forces at the wheel-rail contact which exist with passive or mechanical solutions are significantly reduced. Extensive studies have concentrated upon individual active components to provide particular functions and their development has been focussed on issues at the sub-system level, e.g. the design conflict between ride quality improvement and actuation requirement for the secondary active suspensions.

This project carries out a feasibility study of a systems approach that will bring together the active steering of wheelset and traction control which interact at the wheel-rail contact points, and it is based upon a long term prospect where active wheelset control will be used for rail vehicles and an integrated control for the two sub-systems will then become inevitable in order to ensure the stability and performance of the system. As the dynamics of a railway vehicle is known to be highly interactive, it is essential to understand properly how the structure dynamics and active functions will affect one another; and what adverse effect the interactions will have on the overall performance of the vehicle. The research has helped to establish a rigorous design methodology for the development of active control for railway wheelsets that are also equipped with traction motors.

This project is funded by UK Research Council EPSRC.