Engineering highlights of 2016

general engineering imageAs we approach the year end we thought we’d take a look back at some of the new and innovative engineering stories and reports that came out this year.

There were some astounding breakthroughs in the medical and healthcare sectors as well as enhancements in the more run of the mill procedures.

Osseo integration (the practice of using pins to implant directly into the bone) has been in the news throughout the year. Despite many successful surgeries overseas, growth in the use of the procedure has been relatively slow. A UK pilot of the procedure for military personnel who have lost limbs launched in September this year. If successful it is hoped the use of the procedure can be adopted more widely. Continue reading

Hyperloop One agree deal with Dubai Road Transport Authority

Hyperloop capsuleHyperloop One has agreed a deal with the Dubai Road Transport Authority to assess the delivery of a hyperloop system that will reduce the time taken to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

The system which works using a vacuum-sealed pod transport system could potentially reduce the time taken to travel the 90 miles from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in as little as 12 minutes. Whilst initially the aim is to concentrate on what a hyperloop system can achieve across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there is speculation that it could be expanded at a later date to build links with neighbouring Gulf countries. The current travel time by plane between Dubai and Saudi Arabia is 2 hours; with Hyperloop that travel time could be halved. Continue reading

Why leaves cause delays on the rail network

leaves on rail networkThe weather has turned positively autumnal with a drop in temperature and leaves starting to drop from the trees. At this time of year commuters across the country groan and begin to think about how often the weather is likely to disrupt their daily journey to work. Leaves on the track is frequently put forward as the major reason for causing seasonal disruption to services on our rail network, and whilst at face value the reason sounds a little far-fetched, leaves on the track are in fact, a real safety hazard.

So why do leaves on the rail network cause so many problems? There are 2 key areas where leaves cause problems:

  1. Trains lose their adhesion as the rails become more slippy
  2. Leaves act as an insulator and can disrupt electrical signals on the track.

Continue reading

Siemens testing 707s for South West Trains

siemens 707 trainIn 2014 South West trains introduced electrical multiple units (EMUS) on some routes from London Waterloo. This along with projects to lengthen platforms and trains on other services is just small part of an £800 million investment to improve rail services on the network. In 2015 South West trains ordered a number of Siemens class 707 EMUs for use on the Windsor to London Waterloo commuter service and the first body shell for the 707s was completed in October 2015 at the Siemen’s factory in Germany.

Last month testing of the 707s began in earnest at the Siemen’s dedicated test track in Widenrath, Germany. The state of the art testing site has been designed to test UK fleets to Network Rail standards and should keep disruption to UK train services to a minimum during the testing phase. Continue reading

Longest rail tunnel in the world opens in Switzerland

Gotthard TunnelAfter nearly 2 decades of construction work, the Gotthard Tunnel, the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel opened in Switzerland earlier this month.

The tunnel is expected to revolutionise travel between northern and southern Europe by providing a high speed rail link underneath the Swiss Alps, moving freight traffic off the road and onto the rails. It is estimated that more than a million lorry loads of freight will move from road to rail.

Whilst the tunnels have been officially opened scheduled services will not begin until December 2016 when up to 265 freight trains and 65 passenger trains a day are expected to run. Continue reading