PhD Lab Testing and Benchmarking of Train-Track-Embankment-Subsoil Interaction for Numerical Modelling

PhD Lab Testing and Benchmarking of Train-Track-Embankment-Subsoil Interaction for Numerical Modelling

Published Deadline Location
18 Aug 24 Sep Delft

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Job description

Within the research program RESET– “Reliable Embankments for the Safe Expansion of Rail Traffic” – ProRail, Deltares and TU Delft work together to investigate the behaviour of moving trains on rail embankments with special attention to increasing train frequency and trainloads, and effects of climate change. 8 PhD students and 2 postdocs work in this research program. One PhD position is available to work on Lab testing and benchmarking of train-track-embankment-subsoil interaction for numerical modelling.


Efficient and effective assessment of embankment stability requires advanced models for each component of the infrastructure, from the train loads to the relevant soil layers. Although testing facilities are being developed currently to investigate the multidirectional cyclic response of soft soils, the broad frequency spectrum, which railway embankment should sustain, cannot be fully covered. As a result, the response of the embankment and subsoil under mixed frequencies content cannot be predicted yet with enough accuracy. Such high and mixed frequency tests would be too expensive to conduct at full scale. Scaled train-track-embankment-subsoil interaction tests are needed to bridge the gap between available and forthcoming cyclic lab test methods and tests under operational conditions, including field tests. The research project has a crucial role in bridging the gap between scales (space and time) investigated in RESET to fully answer the main research questions addressed in the project, and will allow testing loading and drainage conditions better replicating the ones in the field, as well as providing a benchmark for the development of the numerical models.

Project description

TU Delft has a scaled test rig (called V-Track) equipped with a train simulator, which will be extended and improved with new facilities, to replicate the entire broad frequencies range and loading conditions expected in the field on a scaled geometry. This lab physical model will be instrumented for scaled train-track-embankment-subsoil interaction testing. It will enable developing, validating and benchmarking advanced models for the assessment of relevant scenarios.

The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the other PhDs and postdoc projects and with all partners in RESET. The PhD candidate will: (a) Develop a test method in the V-Track test rig to reproduce the typical dynamic loading that railway embankments sustain, including ballast and subsoil layers; (b) Perform tests on V-Track to verify and improve models for the infrastructure, including the railway line and subgrade under realistic train loading, over the expected broad frequencies spectrum; (c) Contribute to the development, calibration and validation of the 3D FE train-track-embankment-subsoil interaction model; (d) Contribute to the test of new measurement and monitoring methods on V-Track, including train-borne, e.g., LDV-based and GPR.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Mechanical, Civil, Geotechnical or Aerospace Engineering, Applied Physics or a related field. Knowledge in testing, measurement, vibration and signal processing is required. Knowledge in finite element modelling or soil mechanics is preferred. The applicants should have a high level of proficiency in written and spoken English, and very good communication skills. The successful candidate is expected to cooperate with other members of the research team and external partners.

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 € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 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, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


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 availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science 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
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04291


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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