Railway Track Bed Research

The world-wide demand for construction of high-speed railways is growing. China leads the world followed by Japan. In the UK we are adding capacity to our railway network with the construction of High Speed Two – HS2. In addition railways worldwide (Network Rail, UK, SNCF, France + Amtrak, USA and so on..) are upgrading existing Classic Railways on soil embankments to operate at higher speeds by using new higher speed rolling stock.

The gap in knowledge is: “How to actually estimate the limiting Critical Velocity of a High Speed Train on the soil embankment on site?”

This project will involve working at the cutting edge of new ideas and comprise:

  • A literature review of ground profiles & classical soil mechanics data and the role of site investigations
  • Understanding geophysics and CPT In-situ testing techniques on site
  • Understanding the relationship between Rayleigh waves and compression & shear waves
  • Undertaking field work on the full-scale railway track at Kings Buildings + the heritage railway site in Fife
  • Using the spectral-analysis-of-surface-waves (SASW) method to estimate the Rayleigh wave velocity on site and then link this train critical velocity

The project will also involve liaising with industry.

The project will involve liaising (via Skype) with a distinguished former Visiting Professor - Carlton Ho, PhD, PE, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA USA. We have another distinguished Visiting Professor - Xuecheng Bian, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. Day-to-day liaison will be with Prof Mike Forde, Dr Robert De Bold (Research Associate) & Zihao Yan (current research student).

Closing Date: 

Friday, May 31, 2019
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Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: