Aerodynamics Group Lecture: Train Aerodynamics

28 April 2014

Royal Aeronautical Society



It has been appreciated for many years that trains can reduce their energy costs by suitable streamlining of the train ends, with a resulting reduction of aerodynamic drag. However drag reduction is only one of a number of aerodynamic issues that arise in train and infrastructure design.  Other factors to consider include the pressure changes passengers experience as trains pass through tunnels, the effects of train slipstreams and pressure pulses on waiting passengers, as well as trackside structures and the stability of trains in high crosswinds. 

As aerodynamic effects tend to scale on the square of train velocity, these effects become more pronounced as train speeds increase, and new problems begin to appear.  Examples include ballast being picked up off the track bed by aerodynamic forces, and, in extreme cases, sonic booms occurring at the exit of long tunnels. 

This presentation will give an overview of the current concerns in this field and describe the work being carried out by the Aerodynamics team at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, using computational techniques, physical models and on-track measurements.   

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Speaker Details

Prof Chris Baker, Professor of Environmental Fluid Mechanics, University of Birmingham

Prof Chris Baker, Professor of Environmental Fluid Mechanics, University of Birmingham

Chris Baker graduated from his doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge, before beginning a Research Fellowship there at St Catharine’s College and the Department of Engineering. In the early 1980s he worked in the Aerodynamics Unit of British Rail Research in Derby, before moving to an academic position in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Nottingham.

He remained there till 1998 where he was a lecturer, reader and professor with research interests in vehicle aerodynamics, wind engineering, environmental fluid mechanics and agricultural aerodynamics. In 1998 he moved to the University of Birmingham as Professor of Environmental Fluid Mechanics in the School of Civil Engineering.

In the early years of the present century he was Director of Teaching in the newly formed School of Engineering and Deputy Head of School. From 2003 to 2008 he was Head of Civil Engineering and in 2008 served for a short time as Acting Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. He has been the Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education since 2005.


Royal Aeronautical Society