Freight lightens up with carbon fibre rail bogie

| Transport

Carbon fibre bogie undergoes dynamic testing at the University of Huddersfield

The Institution of Railway Research has broken new ground with the development of lightweight freight bogies using new materials.

The world’s first carbon fibre bogie (CAFIBO), developed by British company ELG Carbon Fibre in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield’s Institute for Railway Research, has been unveiled.

The bogie, which is made entirely out of surplus and recycled carbon fibre materials, was presented to over industry delegates at an event held at the University of Huddersfield in December.

The new CAFIBO bogie is lighter than conventional bogies and optimises vertical and transverse stiffness. It is designed to reduce track wear and infrastructure maintenance costs by reducing vertical and transverse loads on the rails as well as improve reliability and operational availability through an embedded health monitoring system. Additionally, it will reduce energy consumption and hence global warming footprint.

The new bogie is being developed as part of a two-year programme delivered by a consortium of companies comprising ELG Carbon Fibre, Magma Structures, the University of Birmingham and the University of Huddersfield with additional support from Alstom.

Dynamic Testing

Currently, the bogie is being tested on the University of Huddersfield’s state-of-the-art test rolling rig, the Huddersfield Adhesion and Rolling Contact Laboratory Dynamics rig, or ‘HAROLD’ for short.

Frazer Barnes, Managing Director of ELG Carbon Fibre commented: “Replacing steel with recycled carbon fibre to produce a rail bogie is a world first, so it is a hugely exciting and rewarding project to be part of. We hope to make recycled carbon not only an attractive option for the rail industry in terms of weight reduction, but also to eliminate waste and drive down cost.”

According to the Director of the Institute of Railway Research at Huddersfield, Professor Simon Iwnicki, there are significant potential benefits from adopting novel materials and construction methods in railway vehicle bogies. The reduction in mass results in energy savings, but it can also reduce track forces and improve dynamic performance.

“I hope that the tests on the CAFIBO bogie, to be carried out here at Huddersfield, will help to encourage the railway industry to accept these new techniques,” he says.

Research and Development Award

The IRR team also fell under the spotlight at the beginning of March when a group of researchers and engineers received the Queen’s Anniversary prize for research and development that has brought significant improvements to the railway industry.

Professor Iwnicki accompanied the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan, to receive the award from HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Commenting on the award, Iwnicki said: “On behalf of the whole team, I am delighted that we have been awarded this prize. It is a wonderful recognition of the work that we have been carrying out and the impact this is now having on the railway industry.”

Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the UK’s honours system, but awarded to institutions rather than individuals.

The Institute has participated in many projects with industry and academic partners which have led to significant developments, innovations and practical applications. This work has attracted major investment in world-class equipment.

For example, at the start of 2019 the Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock was officially launched at the Institute, sharing in £90 million of funding, distributed among three Centres of Excellence, from the Government and from private industry by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).

One of the outcomes is the construction of a world-class, £3.5 million pantograph testing rig, soon to come into use.

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