Graduate engineers triumph at Railway Challenge

Posted By : Enaie Azambuja

A team of nine graduate engineers from SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit, Derby, has retained the award of Overall Winner at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Railway Challenge 2017 at the Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The competition saw 11 teams compete against each other to design and manufacture the best, most innovative, efficient and quietest small-scale locomotive.

The SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit team previously won the competition in 2012 and 2016. David Westcough, Team Leader for SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit said: “We are delighted that we’ve been able to retain the crown as Overall Winners. Our hard work has paid off and we are particularly pleased with our performance in the Reliability, Noise, Ride Comfort and Design Challenges.

“Taking part in the Railway Challenge has allowed us to put our imagination and resourcefulness to the test and given us the hands-on experience of what’s needed to make a locomotive from start to finish. “The SNC-Lavalin locomotive was dedicated to Hannah Bladon, the daughter of company employee Max Bladon, who died in Jerusalem earlier this year.”

Prof Simon Iwnicki, Chair of the Railway Challenge Organising Committee, said: “We would like to congratulate SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit for an impressive win in this year’s competition against a record number of competitors.

“The judges were impressed with the calibre of design and innovation of all the team’s locomotives, which included the competition’s first ever compressed air piston locomotive from the University of Brunel.

“We were also delighted to host the competition’s first ever non-UK entry from Germany’s FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences. “Each year the entries impress the judges with new innovations, of particular note are the solutions proposed for the Energy Storage and Energy Efficiency Challenges.

These are two big issues currently being faced by manufacturers and so solving these challenges could mean that these young engineers could help to revolutionise our modern railways. “We’re looking forward to even more innovations at next year’s event.”

The competition comprises of a series of track based and presentation challenges, including a design report and an ‘Innovation Challenge’ which involves the production of an academic paper on the innovations in the loco. The track based challenges include: Energy Storage, Traction, Ride Comfort, Noise, Maintainability and Energy Efficiency.

The locomotives are designed to work on 10¼” gauge railway line and must be powerful enough to transport a 600kg load – including one of the Railway Challenge judges.

The final results were:

1: SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit (Overall Winners and winners of the Ride Comfort Challenge, Noise Challenge, joint winners of the Design Challenge sponsored by Wabtec and joint winners of the Reliability Challenge)
2: University of Birmingham and AEGIS Engineering Systems (winners of the Innovation Challenge sponsored by RSSB, the Energy Storage Challenge and joint winners of the Reliability Challenge)
3: University of Huddersfield (joint winners of the Design Challenge sponsored by Wabtec and joint winners of the Reliability Challenge)
4: University of Sheffield (winners of the Maintainability Challenge)
5: Transport for London (joint winners of the Design Challenge - sponsored by Wabtec)
6: University of Southampton and Siemens Mobility (winners of the Traction Challenge)
7: University of Warwick
8: Alstom UK & Ireland (winners of the Business Case Challenge sponsored by RIA)
9: FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences (winners of the Judges' Award for Outstanding Initiative from a new team.)
10: Bombardier Transportation and University of Derby
11. Brunel University (winners of the Judges' Award for Most Interesting Locomotive Design.)

The Railway Challenge is sponsored by RSSB, the Railway Industry Association and Wabtec Faiveley UK.

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