Solving the sand challenge for desert railways

EU-funded researchers are developing solutions to shelter train tracks from wind-blown sand, combining architectural, engineering and mathematical modelling innovations to improve safety, reduce maintenance costs and protect billions of euros’ worth of railway infrastructure.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 15 October 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Innovation
SMEs
TransportRail
Countries involved in the project described in the article
France  |  Italy  |  United Kingdom
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Solving the sand challenge for desert railways

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© #168568740 | Author: javarman, 2018 fotolia.com

With Middle Eastern countries allocating more than EUR 200 billion towards constructing 40 000 kilometres of railway lines by 2030, there is a growing demand for rail infrastructure that can withstand harsh desert conditions. The EU-funded SMART initiative addresses this major issue facing railway development projects.

Wind-blown sand affects railway safety in the Middle East and other arid regions, due to dunes migrating on to the track or signalling controls becoming buried, potentially leading to accidents and derailments. Loose sand also damages train components and wears down tracks over time, substantially reducing service life and increasing maintenance costs.

The SMART project researchers are designing standardised techniques to assess sand hazards to railways, developing new and effective sand mitigation measures and evaluating their performance using computational simulations and field tests.

The work will focus in particular on using innovative curved sand deflectors that can be installed on top of solid walls alongside railway lines. Developed by a team in Turin, Italy, the deflector shape and design can be optimised according to the site conditions, such as average wind speeds and size of local sand grains, using advanced computer simulations.

In the same regions, the sand defector solutions expected to emerge from SMART could be applied to other transport infrastructure, such as roads and airport runways, or even used to protect farmland and archaeological sites.

SMART, supported by the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks programme, is also providing interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral training to early-stage researchers over four years, enhancing the European railway industry’s expertise in civil engineering innovations.

Project details

  • Project acronym: SMART
  • Participants: Italy (Coordinator), France, United Kingdom
  • Project N°: 721798
  • Total costs: € 794 224
  • EU contribution: € 794 224
  • Duration: January 2017 to December 2020

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