Railway Test Rig Gains Traction

| Transport

Rail wheelsets and bogies can be tested on the powered rolling road at the IRR at the University of Huddersfield

One million pound upgrade to rail industry test centre at the Institute of Railway Research in Huddersfield takes the brakes off train development

With £1 million of capital funding provided through the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), the soon-to-be-launched HAROLD 2.0 full-scale bogie test rig builds upon the existing HAROLD facility opened at the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research in 2016. Commissioned as the UK’s only full-size rig of its kind, it features a powered rolling road that can drive the wheelset of a standard gauge bogie at speeds up to 200kph, exerting real-world forces via its hydraulic actuation system.

In partnership with engineering consultants at Ricardo, who will deliver the upgrade, the funding received will provide significant enhancements to the facility’s impressive list of available function. These will include the integration of a real-time train braking performance model and a fully functional AC power bogie, comprising both friction and regenerative brake systems and a complete traction package.

Making use of the capability of hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) testing methods, on-train systems including next-generation wheel-slide protection (WSP), dynamic brake blending control, and traction components can also be analysed using the HAROLD facility at Huddersfield’s rail facility. The test environment can re-create whole-route traction and braking duty-cycles at speeds of up to 200kph, under a range of wheel-rail adhesion conditions, thereby providing an invaluable proving stage prior to on-track trials.

With provision for battery banks and fully configurable real-time models, the test rig will also provide the capability to prove novel hybrid drivetrains and energy storage systems, enabling hardware and software systems to be trialled in a controlled but realistic environment.

HAROLD 2.0 is expected to be ready for operation later in the summer of this year, where it will join other recent UKRRIN funded investments, such as the PANTHER high-speed pantograph test rig and the THOMoS high-fidelity passenger comfort/motion simulator.

According to Professor Paul Allen, Assistant Director of the Institute of Railway Research at Huddersfield, in helping to realise predictable and optimised traction and braking performance, the HAROLD 2.0 test rig will contribute to delivering a safer, more reliable and higher capacity railway.

“By testing and developing hybrid vehicle concepts on equipment such as this, we will be supporting the railway industry in overcoming its wider decarbonisation and electrification challenges,” he says.

The two key testing capabilities of the HAROLD testing facility are in train braking performance and in traction and energy systems:

Train Braking

Researchers and Engineers at the IRR will perform hardware and software development for proving and testing next-generation WSP systems, including train brake blending controller optimisation for both friction and electro-dynamic brakes. Route-specific and brake duty-cycle testing can also be performed to support vehicle acceptance testing and the facility also provides a stepping-stone between desktop/bench-tests and on-track trials.

Traction and Energy Systems

Wheel-slip and traction management system development, problem solving and proving will take place at the IRR as well as hybrid drivetrain and energy storage systems development and proving. It can be used to develop real-time energy storage models (eg battery and hydrogen fuel cell model-in-the-loop) as well as performing whole-route energy cycle evaluation for proving hybrid drive systems.

Jonathan Newell
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