Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE

Why bother with adhesion?

31 October 2011

Railway engineers have a difficult relationship with friction - too much can be as bad as too little. However as railway pioneers tackled steeper and steeper gradients, the problems of relying on friction alone to start, keep going and stop, became ever more acute. This presentation explores how engineers tackled these issues and the ingenious solutions they came up with when wheel-rail adhesion was no longer enough to get trains safely up hills and back down again. With examples from all over the world, a little bit of humour, but also some serious engineering, the lecture describes the development of the high tech. mountain railways that we can experience today.

Presented by Felix Schmid, Associate Professor, Birmingham University

Felix Schmid graduated from the ETH Technical High School in Zurich with a degree in electrical engineering and became involved in railways, and the UK, when he joined GEC Traction as a train control systems engineer. After further studies at UMIST and Salford University he became a lecturer at Brunel University specialising in control engineering and computer integrated manufacturing.

Further contact with the rail industry came when was seconded to the Swiss Railway Inspectorate and was involved in the testing of signalling systems. He returned to UK as a senior lecturer at Sheffield University where he developed the MSc in Railway Systems Engineering. When this venture transferred to Birmingham University, Felix moved with it, and he is now associate professor in railway systems engineering as well as director of the MSc programme. He has also developed a series of shorter courses for organisations such as Bechtel, HMRI and London Underground to give industry newcomers an appreciation of railway engineering issues.


The History of Going Uphill

: Felix Schmid, Associate Professor, University of Birmingham will present a history of mountain railways

Duration: 1hr 25mins