USA: The Federal Transit Administration has provided a grant worth $2·4bn to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to support research into the development of advanced track components.

The studies will be led by staff from UI’s Rail Transportation & Engineering Center, who will work with 11 main line and urban rail industry partners to further enhance the design of concrete sleepers and fastening systems. These designs will be focused on better meeting the needs of the passenger market, whether for light rail, metro or main line commuter rail applications.

RailTec’s research will be assisted by suppliers including Pandrol USA, Amsted RPS, GIC Inc, CXT Concrete Ties and Hanson Professional Services. Rail operators involved include Portland TriMet, St Louis MetroLink, Amtrak and New York City Transit; NYCT will also host a trial installation of the novel trackforms.

‘The resulting components will be more resilient to their respective loading environments and should allow transit agencies to increase the effectiveness of their capital spending by designing infrastructure components that will accommodate the specific types of load encountered’, explained J Riley Edwards, Senior Lecturer & Research Scientist at UI RailTec.