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Harrison_Repoint Mechatronics 2016 paper 2.0.pdf (153.71 kB)

Rethinking rail track switches for fault tolerance and enhanced performance

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-04-29, 14:09 authored by Tim HarrisonTim Harrison, Sam Bemment, Emma Ebinger, Roger Goodall, Christopher Ward, Roger Dixon
Railway track switches, commonly referred to as ‘turnouts’ or ‘points,’ are a necessary element of any rail network. However, they often prove to be performance-limiting elements of networks. A novel concept for rail track switching has been developed as part of a UK research project with substantial industrial input. The concept is currently at the demonstrator phase, with a scale (384 mm) gauge unit currently operational in a laboratory. Details of the novel arrangement and concept are provided herein. This concept is considered as an advance on the state of the art. This paper also presents the work that took place to develop the concept. Novel contributions include the establishment of a formal set of functional requirements for railway track switching solutions, and a demonstration that the current solutions do not fully meet these requirements. The novel design meets the set of functional requirements for track switching solutions, in addition to offering several features that the current designs are unable to offer, in particular to enable multi-channel actuation and rail locking, and provide a degree of fault tolerance. This paper describes the design and operation of this switching concept, from requirements capture and solution generation through to the construction of the laboratory demonstrator. The novel concept is contrasted with the design and operation of the ‘traditional’ switch design. Conclusions to the work show that the novel concept meets all the functional requirements whilst exceeding the capabilities of the existing designs in most non-functional requirement areas.


The authors acknowledge the financial support provided by the United Kingdom EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and the United Kingdom RSSB (Railway Safety and Standards Board) in grant number EP/I010823/1, for the project REPOINT: Redundantly engineered points for enhanced reliability and capacity of railway track switching. The authors also acknowledge the support of the UKs Future Railway, for providing funding towards concept demonstrator design and construction (http://www.futurerailway.org/).



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

IFAC papers online


HARRISON, T. ... et al., 2016. Rethinking rail track switches for fault tolerance and enhanced performance. IFAC-Papers OnLine, 49(21), pp. 260-266.


© IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control). Published by Elsevier


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal IFAC-Papers OnLine and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ifacol.2016.10.564




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