Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century
Railway Systems Research
Faculty of Engineering
and the Environment
University of Southampton

SO17 1BJ, UK

+44 (0)23 8059 3960

+44 (0)23 8067 7519



Welcome to Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century

Track21 is a prestigious £3.1M EPSRC Programme Grant bringing together academics from the Universities of Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham and key industry players.

Our aim is to develop a fundamental and linked understanding of the engineering, economic and environmental performance of railway track that will provide the science needed to underpin a radical overhaul in techniques for railway track design, construction and maintenance.


The key research challenges and objectives through which the vision will be realised are to:

  • develop much improved understandings of the complex mechanisms of railway track behaviour governing stiffness, robustness, longevity, and noise and vibration performance;
  • integrate these understandings to optimise the engineering, environmental and economic performance of track systems; and
  • apply them to create step changes in track system performance that will bring about reduced deterioration rates and maintenance frequencies while mitigating the environmental effects of noise, vibration and materials use. Increasing the time between maintenance cycles will reduce whole-life costs and improve timetable reliability, giving financial, environmental and customer service benefits. The understandings gained will be applied to both ballasted track and more highly engineered track systems, and tools for reliable whole-life assessment developed.

News & Events
Updates on Work Areas Published - August 2011: Please see individual work areas for details.
Southampton Appoints Visiting Professors in Railway Research: The University of Southampton is pleased to announce the appointment of two new Visiting Professors, to strengthen its capabilities and industrial links in the field of railway track research. Andy Doherty (Director of Railway Systems Engineering – Network Rail) and Andrew McNaughton (Chief Engineer – High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd.) will be supporting the EPSRC-funded Track21 Programme Grant in an industrial advisory capacity, and engaging with Southampton’s railway research activities under the auspices of Southampton Railway Systems Research (SR2).

Full News Release - available for download here

RRUK Special Issue of JRRT Published
A new special edition of the IMechE Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit has just been published. This edition carries papers arising from a range of research projects carried out under the auspices of the EPSRC-funded Rail Research UK (RRUK) consortium. Track21 researchers are well-represented. To view the contents please click here .

Track21 in Railway Technology Magazine

Read the article HERE

Industry Steering Group Meeting - 13 December 2010

Download the presentations HERE

Track 21 Launched
Track21 kick-off News Release - available for download here
Recent Railway Research Publications
  • Powrie, W., Leyland, T., (2011). Track21: railway track research for the 21st century. European Railway Review, 17-2, 40-44.

  • Coelho, B., Hölscher, P., Priest, J., Powrie, W., Barends, F., (2011). An assessment of transition zone performance. Proc. IMechE: Part F: J. Rail and Rapid Transport, 225:2, 129-139. DOI: 10.1177/09544097JRRT389

  • Le Pen, L., Powrie, W. (2011). Contribution of base, crib, and shoulder ballast to the lateral sliding resistance of railway track: a geotechnical perspective. Proc. IMechE: Part F: J. Rail and Rapid Transport, 225:2, 113-128. DOI: 10.1177/0954409710397094

  • Triepaischajonsak, N., Thompson, D.J., Jones, C.J.C., Ryue, J., Priest, J.A., (2011). Ground vibration from trains: experimental parameter characterization and validation of a numerical model. Proc. IMechE: Part F: J. Rail and Rapid Transport, 225:2, 140-153. DOI 10.1177/09544097JRRT370

  • Mackillican, R., (2010). Track for the 21st Century. Railway Technology Magazine, 11:6, 39-40.

  • Smethurst J., Powrie W., (2010). Understanding the behaviour of embankments. Railway Strategies, June-July, 73-75.

  • Track21 - Railway Research - Funded by EPSRC - Programme Grant EP/H044949/1 Copyright © Track21 2010