Rail Veichles Dynamics

The Railway Dynamics unit carries out research on the dynamic behaviour of railway vehicles and their interaction with the infrastructure. Research is targeted at the dynamics, vibration and durability problems of railway vehicles and their interaction with the infrastructure.Theoretical investigation is backed by extensive use of laboratory and field testing facilities. Research links have been established with some of the leading research groups worldwide. The research group also benefits from interaction with and funding from some of the main industrial stakeholders in Italy and Europe and took part in 18 research projects funded by the EC within the last three Framework Programmes (FP5 to FP7). The group is also involved in the activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) on railway transport, an industry-academia cooperation established by Fondazione Politecnico in 2008, bringing together a number of key national and international companies in the field of railway transport. Research is currently being conducted in five main areas.

Mathematical modelling and the experimental investigation of rail vehicle running dynamics and train-track interaction

Innovative approaches to the study of rail vehicle running dynamics and traintrack-bridge interaction are introduced. Mathematical modelling research addresses the detailed description of vehicle and track flexibility effects and improved models for wheel-rail contact and for wheel and rail wear. Simulation methods were validated by comparisons with line measurements on vehicles of different classes and on a full scale roller rig, including one of the very few published full scale experiments on wheelset derailment.

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Pantograph-catenary interaction

The unit holds a world leading position in the modelling and simulation of pantograph-catenary interaction. Work in this area included the participation to the FP6 EUROPAC project and the FP7 Pantotrain project, involving the development of new modelling techniques and hardware-in-the-loop hybrid simulation. The research group has recently promoted an international benchmark on the simulation of pantograph-catenary interaction, which sees the participation of 13 universities and research centres across 3 continents. Research work also covers electrical and tribological issues in pantograph-catenary contact, a major research instrument being the full-scale test bench for pantograph-catenary contact which simulates contact between the pantograph and the contact wire under variable mechanical and electrical conditions, i.e. contact force, sliding speed and electrical current flow. High speed pantograph aerodynamics is also investigated, with intensive use of the PoliMi wind tunnel.

Mechatronics of railway vehicles

Active control applications are studied as a means to improve rail vehicle performance, safety and ride quality. Focus is set on the active suspension control to improve vehiclestability and curving behaviour, active control of airspring secondary suspensions, active steering and active pantograph control.

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Condition monitoring and diagnostics of railway vehicles and tracks

The research group has been involved in an extensive research project targeted at the homologation and condition based monitoring of the Italian high-speed network. Furthermore, within the context of the JRC activities, three research projects, dealing with the monitoring of traction equipment, pantograph diagnostics and the early detection of instability based on bogie vibration measurements, are currently under way.

Aerodynamics in railway vehicles

Research on this topic deals with various aerodynamic effects on high-speed trains. Research entails the use of the Low-Turbulence & Boundary-Layer Wind-Tunnel and of advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation techniques. Researchers from the group have also been involved in investigations on a European level to revise the Technical Specifications for Interoperability.

Prof. Stefano Bruni