- Project Dates: From January 2005 to March 2009
- Project Leader: Dr Joe Carruthers
- Sponsors: European Commission
- Partners: Alstom Transport, Ansaldobreda, ATAC Roma, Bombardier Transportation, Siemens Transportation Systems
One approach to reducing the operational energy consumption of urban rail vehicles is to reduce vehicle mass. This can be achieved through the application of lightweight materials and designs. However, if lightweight materials are to be specified for rail vehicles, it is essential that any constraints on their use are removed. The overall objective of this work was to provide engineers in urban vehicle production with the necessary information to allow them to specify lightweight materials in a systematic, robust and rational manner in order to provide affordable vehicles with reduced weight and reduced energy consumption.The work involved the application of a lightweight materials database and selection tool (Cambridge Engineering Selector - CES) to four metro vehicle case study components - an interior grab rail, a gear-box casing, an external door leaf and an interior floor panel. For each case study, the objective was to reduce the mass of the existing component through the application of lightweight materials and designs whilst retaining (or enhancing) the existing functionality. Overall, it was estimated that if the four lightweight solutions developed were implemented on a six-car metro vehicle, the total mass reduction would be 4.6 tonnes. It was also estimated that this would yield a 1.7% reduction in operational energy consumption and an associated annual cost saving of â‚¬23,000 per vehicle.As a follow-on piece of work, a lightweight grab rail (see image) was designed and manufactured using carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites. It was prototyped and installed on a MODURBAN demonstrator vehicle to validate the findings of the material selection exercise.