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PhD Studentship – High Speed Railway Degradation Modelling


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Tuesday 11 June 2024
Reference:  ENG1762

Closing date: open until filled

Department: Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering

Research Group:  Resilience Engineering 

Applications are invited for this 4 year PhD project, from suitably qualified graduates to work in the Resilience Engineering Research Group, based in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham. The University has worked with Network Rail, as its Strategic University Partner in Infrastructure Asset Management, for over 10 years and our Research Group specialises in the development of models to support the asset management process.  

The candidate will engage with the High Speed 1 (HS1) team on a regular basis and will have the opportunity to undertake an industrial placement with HS1 / Network Rail High Speed.

Background and Project:

High-speed railway infrastructure is a complex arrangement of systems and structures, which includes: track, switches, drainage, signalling, power supply and communications, in addition to the civil structures comprising earthworks, tunnels, bridges and stations.   As the railway is utilised, these assets will wear and their condition will deteriorate.   This can mean that they pose an unacceptable risk of accidents occurring, such as derailments or train collisions, or the expenditure to undertake interventions to improve their condition will become excessive.  In order to ensure that the railway is both safe and cost effective, it is important that plans are in place to renew the poorly performing elements at the appropriate time. To support the process to decide when renewals will take place, mathematical models are needed to indicate the contribution that the assets make to the safety risk, and also the expected costs of their maintenance.

The project is to develop the mathematical models to predict (i) the frequency of derailments as the condition of the railway wears and (ii) the costs of the maintenance required to keep the condition of the systems and structures in a good state.  These will then be used to decide on the time at which the renewal of the system elements will take place.

This project provides the opportunity to work on the only current high-speed railway in the UK, and has the potential for significant impact. The successful candidate will benefit from real-world industrial input to their work.

Candidate Profile:

The successful candidate will have (or will be about to receive) at least an upper second class degree in mathematics, engineering, physics or computer science with strong skills in modelling. We are looking for a bright, committed individual, with a mature approach to self-led learning. The ability to communicate with external stakeholders is essential. An interest in railways would be advantageous.


The proposed funding will cover UK / Home PhD tuition fees, plus an enhanced tax-free stipend for four years, starting at £22,575 pa. A travel and consumables allowance will also be available. International students are welcome to apply with their own funding. Candidates should be available to start on 1st October 2024.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The Faculty of Engineering provides a thriving working environment for all Post Graduate Researchers, creating a strong sense of community across research disciplines. The Faculty has outstanding facilities and works in partnership with leading industrial partners.

For further information, please contact Dr Rasa Remenyte-Prescott (

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