PhD Identification of Dynamic Track Stiffness Profiles from Rail Displacement Fields under Moving Train Axles

PhD Identification of Dynamic Track Stiffness Profiles from Rail Displacement Fields under Moving Train Axles

Published Deadline Location
31 Jan 12 Mar Delft

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Job description

Within the research program STEM (“SpoorTrillingen EmissieModel”) Delft University of Technology is cooperating with the Dutch partners ProRail, TNO and Deltares on a better control of train-induced environmental vibration on the Dutch railway network. The program, supported by an experimental agenda, focuses on developing a state of the art simulation tool for vibration diagnosis in existing situations and prediction in design/mitigation situations.

TU Delft is recruiting 4 PhD students to work within this research program. This PhD position focuses on developing a methodology for quantifying one of the critical aspects of the track with regard to the generation of a dynamic axle load and vibration emission, which is the dynamic stiffness profile of the track. The position will provide you with a unique chance to further build your career in the field with a challenging PhD embedded in a large research project with involvement of all major institutes and stakeholders associated with the Dutch railways.


Interaction between moving trains and tracks is at the origin of train-induced environmental vibration. Whereas the response to the static part of the axle load is governed by the track properties, the loading magnitude and the speed, the dynamic part of the load generates a radiating wave field. Apart from track irregularities, the track stiffness profile as experienced by a moving axle is a key factor governing the occurrence and magnitude of a dynamic component of the axle load. Real-time establishing this stiffness profile on the Dutch network will allow for diagnosis of vibration hotspots and calibration of prediction models.   

Project description

As a PhD student, you will develop a robust, theoretical framework that allows for performance and interpretation of train-based pilot measurements of the dynamic stiffness profile of railway tracks, involving variables such as axle load, train speed, ambient temperature, track configuration, track condition, subsoil and other variables.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


You are a strongly motivated candidate with an MSc degree in Mechanical, Civil, Geotechnical or Aerospace Engineering or a related field.

We require a sound knowledge base of structural dynamics and - preferably analytical - modelling; experience/affinity with measuring techniques and signal processing will be a plus. You preferably have a Dutch language proficiency and are able to express yourself fluently in English. You have excellent communication skills, are able to work in a team setting and to network.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Adviceto assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03440


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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