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The sustainable freight railway (SUSTRAIL)


  • Train Consortium (Project co-ordinator)
  • Researchers from 29 partners

From KTH:

Sources of funding

European Commission (FP7)

Research Direction

The rail industry is lagging in its adoption of state of the art techniques and technologies that are gaining traction in air, shipping, and roadway transport. These include performance-based design, the use of lightweight and high performance materials, the use of structural health monitoring technologies, and the trend toward condition based maintenance. Within this context, SUSTRAIL will increase the SUSTAINABILITY, COMPETITIVENESS, and AVAILABILITY of European railway networks. The SUSTRAIL approach takes into account Methodology, Implementation Timeframe, and Means of Application. SUSTRAIL employs an integrated approach.

Contributions from the different topic areas (vehicles, track, and operations) will be demonstrated on real routes. Four routes that offer geographic dispersion as well as differences in type (freight vs. passenger), mixed traffic vs. freight only routes, speed, and frequency of traffic have been made available. In specific, SUSTRAIL will conduct the following activities: 

  • Benchmarking to establish existing state of the art for comparison activities, including correlation of track damage levels with vehicle design parameters on three real routes in the EC ( WP1).
  • Duty requirements for current and future freight traffic flows. An innovative “smart embankment” concept is considered for the monitoring of the effect of high speed freight vehicles on the rail infrastructure (WP2).
  • The business case for the freight vehicle-track system for higher delivered tonnage (WP5).
  • Track design requirements for reduced maintenance time and whole life cost based on optimised vehicle characteristics (WP4).
  • Wheelset design requirements, including consideration of unsprung mass and fatigue life (WP2 and WP3).
  • Suspension design requirements, including the need for acceptable dynamic performance in tare (empty) and fully laden conditions (WP2 and WP3).
  • Novel design and materials for lightweight high performance freight vehicles, including the body structure, bogies and brake systems. A new concept of lightweight will be studied using a range of advanced materials/technology (WP3).
  • Recommendations for whole-system implementation, including strategies for the equitable redistribution of wholesystem savings (WP5).
  • A practical demonstration of potential technological solutions (WP6).