School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Roberto Palacin

Rail Systems Group Lead and Degree Program Director for Mechanical & Systems Engineering



Senior academic leading the Railway Systems Research Group at NewRail, I have a background in Mechanical Engineering, Design and Railway Systems Engineering. I have been involved in research projects on subjects such as strategic development of transport systems, energy efficiency of urban and mainline rail systems, urban mobility and sustainability, development of innovative railway concepts, energy optimisation of rail systems, intermodality of the European rail network and development of modular concepts for high-speed.

My research interests revolve around the two main aspects, application of a systems approach to energy conservation and human-systems interaction and include mobility and mass-capacity in the context of MaaS (urban and long distance), improving railways energy efficiency, connectivity and the development of ergonomic and design-led railway environments.

I am currently Principal Investigator (PI)/CO-I  for

  • MyCorridor, a H2020 funded initiative exploring the paradigm-shift revolution of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). the research includes investigations on the business models, technological  and behavioural challenges of deploying this concept on international corridors. I am the overall coordinator of this large project;
  • SETRIS, a H2020 project that aims at delivering a cohesive and coordinated approach to research and innovation strategies for all transport modes in Europe, where my role is to lead the passenger mobility strategy;
  • OPEUS, a Shift2Rail JU ( funded project seeking the development of modelling and strategies for the assessment and optimisation of energy usage aspects of rail innovation. I am the overall coordinator and also involved in all areas of research including model development and energy outlook;
  • Z_LIM a UK funded project investigating predictable and optimised braking for rail systems applying the concept of a linear induction motor that instead of using an integrated primary and secondary unit, it separates them using the existing running rails as the secondary placing the primary component attached to the bogie in the fashion of a eddy current brake. This allows for the generation of forces that are independent of the level of adhesion between wheel and rail, effectively providing a zero wheel-slip effect. I am the overall project director;
  • TRA VISIONS 2018 ( a H2020 funded project coordinating and organising the research completion of surface transport as part of the by-annual TRA conference. I am the overall responsible for the rail competition;

Recently completed research includes the following:

  • International Coordination for implementation of innovative and efficient urban mobility solutions (Viajeo Plus), an EU FP7 project seeking the identification and sharing of best practice leading to implementing sustainable urban transport systems in Europe, China, Singapore and latin America;
  • Optimal strategy to innovate and reduce energy consumption in urban rail systems (OSIRIS), an FP7 co-funded project where i led the development of a unique set of key performance indicators for energy optimisation urban rail systems (see some of my recent publications on the topic). My contribution to OSIRIS was also related to the definition and development of operational requirements and needs for urban rail systems as well as the integration of technical results and economic assessment for Decision Support;
  •  Sustainable and intelligent management of energy for smarter railway systems in Europe: an integrated optimisation approach (MERLIN), this research aimed at developing an architecture for the development smart rail systems in a similar fashion to smart grids are related to power distribution grids. I led the development of an architecture and associated tool for strategic decision making (SDMT) as well as being involved in research on developing operational and strategic approaches to improve the energy efficiency of railways.;
  • integrated optimal capacity, safety and energy strategies at multiple nodes (SafeCap ). A UK funded project using formal methods for verification applied to the optimisation of rail energy networks. I was part of a multidisciplinary team at Newcastle University co-led with Prof Romanovsky (School of Computing Science) aiming to develop real-time network optimisation tools exploring the trade-off between capacity, safe and energy usage. 

Past projects include CleanER-D (Clean European Rail Diesel), EBSF (European Bus System of the Future), MODTRAIN (Innovative modular vehicle concepts for an integrated European railway system), HST Connectivity (study on High Speed rail connectivity in northwest Europe) and RAILTEST (Inventory of Railway Test Installations in Europe and Detection of Synergies between them).

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Esteem Indicators

Esteem indicators include:

  • Selected member of China’s High End Foreign Experts Programme, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2017);
  • Invited reviewer for the European Commission’s FP6, FP7 and H2020 research programmes (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018);
  • Invited member of the Energy Advisory Group for the €18m international research project Innovative Intelligent Rail (In2Rail);
  • Invited advisor to the European S2R Joint Undertaking  ( re-defining the vision and strategy for their €920m multi-annual action plan (MAAP);
  • Guest Editor with Prof Tony Roskilly and Prof Yan for a special issue on Clean Transport, Applied Energy Journal (Elsevier), volume157;
  • Member of the UITP's academic network representing Newcastle University (ongoing);
  • Member of the National Evaluation and Foresight Agency (ANEP), Spain(2006-to date);
  • Regular peer reviewer for indexed journals (2008-);
  • peer reviewer for the Transport Research Arena-TRA2012 &TRA2014 (2012, 2014)
  • Scientific committee member for the International Congress on Rail Technology, 12-14 April, 2010 (Spain);
  • Peer reviewer, organising committee member and session chair at the 13th European Conference on Composite Materials (ECCM13), Stockholm (Sweden) 02-05 June 2008
  • Expert Member, Working Group on Passenger Intermodality, LINK European Forum (2008)
  • Member of the evaluation panel for the CENIT Programme, part of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) a Spanish public organisation under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (2006, 2008).
  • Expert Evaluator for the Vienna Technology and Science Fund on the Science for the Creative Industries programme (2006).
  • Panel member and speaker at the conference “Beyond Rail”, Brussels, 2006, on the future of high speed rail in Europe;
  • Session Chair and speaker at the SAMPLE 2006 Conference, Paris 2006 on the composite materials in transport topic.
  • Organising Committee and Speaker at Rail Systems Engineering Conference, Derby (UK),’05



Degree Programme Director (DPD) for Mechanical and Systems Engineering

Modules for the 2017-18 academic year:

  • Mechanical Engineering Professional Skills I (MEC1012);
  • Design for Industry (MEC3018);
  • Design for human systems interaction (MEC8028);
  • Rail Environment and Energy (MEC8039);
  • Mechanical Engineering Project (MEC3098);
  • MSc Project: mechanical & Systems Engineering (MEC8095);
  • Project Management Appreciation (SPG8027) MSc Renewable Energy, Enterprise and Management (REEM)/Renewable Energy Flexible Trainning programme (REFLEX)
  • Enterprise Project (SPG8094) MSc Renewable Energy, Enterprise and Management (REEM)/Renewable Energy Flexible Trainning programme (REFLEX)

In previous years:

  • RailNewcastle Summer School, "Energy Use For Sustainable Rail" plus project supervision
  • MEng Mechanical Engineering Stage 4  "Enginering tomorrow's railway" module co-supervision and assessment (MEC4006);
  • MEng Mechanical Engineering Stage 4  team project supervision and assessment (MEC8099);
  • Annual guest lecture  to Supply Chain Management undergraduate students (MKT3011) and Supply Chain postgraduate students (NBS8501);

In addition, i am main supervisor/co-supervisor to a number of PGRs at the Newcastle and Singapore campuses on subjects such as connectivity, energy and capacity aspects of railway systems, subway climatology and others.