High-Fidelity Bi-Mode Rail Vehicle Model

The Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit has published a new article of mine, entitled Development and control of a rail vehicle model to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The paper is open-access and freely downloadable.

Paper Overview

We made a detailed model of a bi-mode rail vehicle and used control to reduce its carbon emissions (decarbonisation).

The Rail Vehicle Model

A bi-mode train is one that can run on electricity from overhead wires (sometimes called overhead line equipment or OLE), or by generating electricity from the on-board diesel generator. Then we used vehicle data to make sure the model represented the behaviour of the real train.

Control for Decarbonisation

We used that model to look at a range of controllers for reducing the CO2 emitted by the train (decarbonisation) during its run from London Paddington to Plymouth in the UK. Our controller reduced the CO2 emissions of the train by 19%. Without this controller, the train produces around 42g of CO2 per passenger-kilometre of diesel running.

Intermittent Electrification

We also investigated some simple ‘intermittent electrification’, where only some sections the route are electrified. (Some people also call this discontinuous or discrete electrification.) You can see the results of this analysis in the picture, below.

A graph showing the extent of decarbonisation possible for the Paddington to Plymouth train line.
This figure shows the key conclusions of the paper. Firstly, that electrification will reduce the CO2 emissions of the route (but not to zero, because the UK still produces electricity using some fossil fuels). Secondly, that intermittent electrification (only electrifying some pieces of track) and using selective engine shutdown can reduce the CO2 emissions when only part of the track is electrified.

The figure shows that intermittent electrification can be more effective than continuous electrification at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It also shows that selective engine shutdown can be used for the decarbonisation of a bi-mode rail vehicle.


This project was generously funded by the RSSB (project COF-IPS-02). We would also like to thank Hitachi Rail, Angel Trains, Great Western Railway and Chiltern Railways for their support.


New Mechatronics PhD Positions!

Two new mechatronics PhD positions have been released on Loughborough University’s Research opportunities page. These are positions in the Control Systems Group, and will involve working with me on some really interesting new control engineering challenges. They are:

  1. Advanced control of bi-mode trains: This mechatronics PhD project will look at controlling the energy usage of bi-mode trains (trains that use both diesel and overhead electrical wires) in order to reduce their emissions. The intention is to investigate strategies similar to the equivalent consumption minimisation strategy for rail vehicles. It ties directly into the bi-mode decarbonisation research project I am currently running.
  2. Control of mechatronic pantographs: This project is led by Dr Chris Ward, the head of the Control Systems Group. You will investigate the design and control of a novel mechatronic pantograph system that will replace existing mechanical systems. This is a great opportunity to do a mechatronics PhD in a new research area!

If you want more information, please see the advertisements on the Loughborough website, or get in touch with me.