£1 million upgrade for HAROLD railway bogie test rig at the University's Institute of Railway Research

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State-of-the-art train braking, traction and energy systems test facility will broaden University’s rail research capabilities.


State-of-the-art train braking, traction and energy systems test facility will broaden University’s rail research capabilities.

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With £1M 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 motored rolling road that can drive a 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 Ricardo who will deliver the upgrade, funding will provide significant enhancements to the facility’s functionality, including 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 complete traction package. Utilising the capability of hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) test methods, on-train systems including next-generation wheel-slide protection (WSP), dynamic brake blending control, and traction components can be analysed. 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 solutions to be trialled in a controlled but realistic environment.

The installation is expected to be ready for operation by summer 2022, 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.

“In helping 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. Through testing and development of hybrid vehicle concepts, will support the railway industry in overcoming its wider decarbonisation and electrification challenges”

Professor Paul Allen, Assistant Director of the Institute of Railway Research.

Summary of capabilities:

 Train Braking:

  • Hardware and software development and proving of next generation WSP systems
  • Train brake blending controller optimisation (friction and electro-dynamic brakes)
  • Route-specific and brake duty-cycle testing to support vehicle acceptance
  • 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
  • Hybrid drivetrain and energy storage solution development and proving
  • Real-time energy storage models (e.g. battery and hydrogen fuel cell model-in-the-loop)
  • Whole-route energy cycle evaluation for proving hybrid drive solutions


Note to editors: 

The University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR) is an internationally leading research group built upon core expertise in the field of railway vehicle and track system dynamics. The group has been established for over 20 years and brings together some of the most highly skilled railway researchers in the UK. The IRR employs a team of 35 multi-disciplinary staff with capabilities in the core areas outlined below:

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The IRR delivers fundamental academic research through UK and European funded research projects. It further supports the rail industry through directly funded commercial project work and UK research grant funding to deliver new technologies through its Centre for Innovation in Rail (CIR). The IRR also provides engineering and railway risk related research under a strategic partnership with RSSB and has recently been selected from a group of universities to lead the £30M Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock, under the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).

UKRRIN is a partnership between the railway industry and leading academic institutions carrying out railway research.

In addition to its core capabilities the IRR provides access to advanced test facilities, these include full-scale dynamic testing capabilities for vehicle and track systems together with high performance computing clusters capable of delivering data driven solutions for safety and predictive maintenance-based research. www.hud.ac.uk/irr

In 2019 the IRR was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary prize “for research and development that has brought significant improvements to the railway industry.” 

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