International railway competition introduces new safety challenge

Automatic brake element enables up-and-coming engineers to design a system that prevents accidents.

Teams of undergraduate students, industry apprentices and young professionals from the UK and overseas will compete in a new track-based challenge as part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Railway Challenge at Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire.

This year will see the introduction of a new auto–stop function element to the competition, where participating teams will have to design their locomotive to stop automatically as close as possible to a marked point on the track. Teams will also be required to produce a technical poster to encourage participants to communicate effectively how the principal systems of their locomotive work.

The competition, which was launched in 2012, requires participants to design and manufacture a miniature gauge, railway locomotive in accordance with a number of precise rules.
The teams’ locomotives will be tested at the competition weekend in the summer of 2019, in a series of track based and presentation challenges. These challenges include a design report and business presentation, as well as track-based challenges on the locomotive’s traction, ride comfort, noise, maintainability and ability to store energy.

As part of the Institution’s commitment to inspire the next generation of engineers, the Railway Challenge organisers will host a STEM Day at the competition. Local schools will be invited to take part in STEM related activities run by a dedicated group of STEM Ambassadors.

Professor Simon Iwnicki, Chairman of Railway Challenge, said:
“Introducing an auto-stop element to the competition encourages the next generation of engineers to understand the critical nature of railway safety. It also gives them practical experience in designing a safety critical system. This new part of the competition will give early-career engineers the experience of designing, building and operating a locomotive which can help to prevent accidents.”

Confirmed teams taking part in the Railway Challenge 2019 are:

  1. University of Huddersfield
  2. University of Warwick
  3. FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences & Reuschling, team Emma loves J.I.M
  4. Transport for London
  5. Brunel University London, team The Brunelian Express
  6. Helwan University, team Apene
  7. Ricardo Rail
  8. University of Sheffield
  9. Bombardier Transportation & University of Derby
  10. SNC-Lavalin & Transit
  11. Newcastle University
  12. South Western Railway/ CEMAST
  13. Poznań University of Technology, team PUTrain
  14. Network Rail

The Railway Challenge is supported by Network Rail.