CHARMEC - A prerequisite for a functioning railway

​For more than 20 years, the Chalmers Railway Mechanics (CHARMEC) competence center has combined excellent research with industrial relevance. The competence center has had a positive impact on participating companies of about 1.2 billion Swedish Kronor, producing more than 1 000 publications and 40 Doctors. In short, the center has been a prerequisite for a functioning railway.
CHARMEC's research is about mechanical phenomena and material behavior associated with the contact between the train wheel and rail. In addition, research on brakes, noise, bogies, sleepers, ballast and more. Anders Ekberg is the director of CHARMEC and believes that research is extremely important for rail traffic as it contributes to major environmental and economic savings. In addition, the need for efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly transport systems increases as cities grow.

"For example, if we can save a percentage of the cost of the high-speed railways planned between Sweden's big cities because CHARMEC delivers a smart solution, then that makes huge savings of a couple of billion," says Anders Ekberg.

CHARMEC has delivered many smart solutions for train traffic over the years. Among other things, Malmbanan's capacity has increased and Sweden's rail network has improved gear and rail.

In 2013, Vinnova released an impact analysis that shows that CHARMEC, from its start in 1995 to 2011, had a positive financial impact on the companies involved in the center, corresponding to approximately SEK 1.2 billion. SJ and Abetong are two of several examples of companies that benefited greatly from collaboration with CHARMEC.

"We have had help with, among other things, technical solutions that improve punctuality, customer comfort, safety and reduce costs," says Susanne Rymell, responsible for SJ's Vehicle Division Technology.

Rikard Bolmsvik is responsible for the development work at the plant at Abetong. He says that CHARMEC's research helped them to develop new products, such as a wooden replacement slipper, but also provided them with great knowledge about the entire track structure and interactions between vehicles and track, which is highly valued by the industry representatives that Abetong meet around the world.

"This means that we can stand well prepared for discussions about changes, new developments and injury cases," says Rikard Bolmsvik.

CHARMEC's analyzes, simulations and measurements have also greatly contributed to the efficiency of maintenance work. The traffic on the tracks is mixed between fast trains, freight trains and regional trains that make many stops. Therefore, maintenance must be planned and performed smartly. Thanks to CHARMEC, today many more trains can be run on Sweden's train lines than would otherwise have been possible. Ingemar Frej, Technical Director of Maintenance at the Swedish Transport Administration, says that CHARMEC, with its excellence, has been a valuable cooperation partner, which enabled the Swedish Transport Administration to make better decisions.

"Without CHARMEC, we had only been relying on procurement and the proposals that come in. The development can take place faster when the Swedish Transport Administration also takes part in modern research”, says Ingemar Frej.

In the future, a lot of work within CHARMEC will be put on Shift2Rail, a major European cooperation project. It will partly contribute to the realization of the EU's ambitions for the transfer of road to rail traffic, and to support the competitiveness of the European rail industry and the realization of a common European rail system. CHARMEC's role is to formulate, coordinate and conduct research in Sweden for reduced life cycle costs for rail transport by 50 percent, doubling capacity and increased reliability and punctuality by 50 percent.
 
 
Facts:
Number of publications: 1033
Number of research projects completed: 117
Number of Doctoral Students: 41
 

Published: Tue 18 Sep 2018.