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Ricardo Rail wins student engineer Railway Challenge competition

A team of graduate student and apprentice engineers from consultancy Ricardo Rail beat nine other teams to be crowned the Grand Champion of this year’s Railway Challenge which was held at the weekend at the Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire.

The competition, which is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, requires participants to design and manufacture a miniature, 10 1/4” gauge railway locomotive.

The locomotives were tested at the competition, which ran from 28 June to 1 July, 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.

Ricardo Rail beat teams from UK and German universities as well as last year’s winner SNC Lavalin Rail and Transit.

“This year’s Railway Challenge was the toughest competition yet. For Ricardo to win in the first year it has competed is an outstanding achievement. Good team work and project management, with sound system engineering and testing delivered impressive and reliable performance,” said Head Judge Bill Reeve, who is Director of Rail at Transport Scotland and a Fellow of the Institution.

“We had a team that worked really well together and benefitted from cross-industry expertise by having railway and automotive team members. The general design wasn’t overcomplicated, though we did concentrated our efforts on the energy recovery,” said Benjamin Morley, Graduate Consultant Engineer and Project Manager of the Ricardo Rail team.

The judges said they were impressed by the wide range of solutions for traction and braking systems and suspension designs. The locomotives also featured fuel cells, internal combustion, batteries, super-capacitors, and mechanical energy storage.

Overall results of the Railway Challenge

  1. Ricardo Rail (Grand Champion)
  2. SNC-Lavalin Rail and Transit
  3. University of Birmingham
  4. FH Aachen and Reuschling University, Germany
  5. TFL (Transport for London)
  6. University of Sheffield
  7. University of Warwick
  8. University of Huddersfield
  9. Bombardier Transportation and University of Derby
  10. Siemens and University of Southampton

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