Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Transport

UK’s First Tram-Train Project Coming Along — New Wheel Profile Ready For Approval Process

The UK’s first Tram-Train project/trial — the Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train scheme — has reached a new milestone in its development, with the completion of a new wheel-rail interface profile. This new wheel profile will allow the Tram-Train vehicle to operate efficiently, and safely, on two very different railway infrastructures — on both the tight radius curves of the embedded city centre track, and also on the higher speed but less curvaceous portions of the Network Rail mainline, both of which feature relatively distinct rail head shapes.

The new wheel profile will now be tested by both the SST project team, and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB). If approved for running on the mainline, the Tram-Train test running in the UK will begin shortly thereafter.

For those unfamiliar with the concept — simply put, the Tram-Train concept allows a railway vehicle to run in two distinct and continuous operational modes/environments, serving both relatively dense city centers as an on-street tram, and areas further from the city as a commuter train. Needless to say, the concept has some definite upsides to it, but it also requires a greater deal of regulation than either modalities do on their own. The concept was pioneered in Germany, and, in recent years, has now begun spreading to other regions of Europe.

Engineers have been developing solutions for the problematic interface between a Tram-Train vehicle and two very different railway infrastructures. Image Credit: University of Huddersfield

Engineers have been developing solutions for the problematic interface between a Tram-Train vehicle and two very different railway infrastructures.
Image Credit: University of Huddersfield

The press release from the University of Huddersfield provides more:

The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train scheme represents the UK’s first trial of the concept and has provided the project partners, the Department for Transport, Network Rail (NR), Northern Rail, Stagecoach Supertram (SST) and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive with many challenges. As Dr Paul Allen, Assistant Director of the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR), and project manager, explains: “One of these challenges is the wheel-rail interface, key to the vehicles’ safe operation and a major driver for the ongoing life-cycle maintenance costs of the system.”

By applying advanced computer modelling techniques, the team at the IRR has been able to predict vehicle dynamic behaviour on both the tight radius curves (<25m) of embedded city centre track and also the higher speed but less curvaceous sections on Network Rail mainline.

“These differing conditions require an interface design which maintains vehicle dynamic stability on straight track, whilst allowing adequate curving performance and derailment resistance in the city centre — a classic engineering compromise in railway vehicle dynamics,” said Dr Allen. The wheel profile was also required to operate under differing wheelset geometry conditions. This required a special stepped-wheel flangeback to maintain safe passage through both NR and SST switches and crossings and checked curves.

David Crosbee, one of the Senior Research Fellows at the IRR, adds more: “The wheel design work was complicated by the very different rail head shapes of the two systems; the SST network having a very flat rail head profile, whilst the worn NR rail sections typically have a much smaller effective rail head shape. This necessitated compromise in the wheel and tread design with significant simulation work being carried out to optimise the new wheel profile shape. This allowed wheel-rail contact stress and wear rates to be minimised on both systems, whilst also maintaining safety against derailment.”

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Cruise Talks Autonomous Driving Tech, Regulations, & Auto Design

New Podcast: Battery Mineral Mining Policies & Regional Trends

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.


Support our work today!


Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports


EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats


Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like


The UK government will be investing £43 million ($66 million) into the support of ultra-low-emission vehicles through 2020 — thereby supporting the buildout of...

Clean Power

A remarkable rooftop solar project is now under construction in the UK. Solarcentury reports it is installing a solar roof containing over 4,000 photovoltaic...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.