PhD Position Train-Track-Embankment-Subsoil Interaction: Modelling, Validation and Application

PhD Position Train-Track-Embankment-Subsoil Interaction: Modelling, Validation and Application

Published Deadline Location
31 Oct 28 Nov 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 will 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. TU Delft is recruiting 8 PhD students and 2 postdocs to work in this research program. One PhD position is available to work on train-track-embankment-subsoil interaction: modelling, validation and application.


The train, track, embankment and subsoil work together as a system. The static and dynamic behaviour of each component in the system and their interactions determine the performance of the whole system. Numerical modelling is the most economical and efficient method to understand the response and interactions in this system, to predict the embankment stability and its evolution over time due to changing loads including climatic stresses. The modelling and its validation are closely related to the laboratory and field tests, the development of material constitutive models, the development of new measurement and monitoring methods and the risk assessment.

Project description

The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the other PhD and postdoc projects and with all partners in RESET. The PhD student will develop a 3D FE train-track-embankment-subsoil dynamic interaction model, which will enable (a) Modelling with sufficient accuracy the  mechanical behaviour of rail, rail-pad, sleeper, ballast, embankment and subsoil; (b) Determining the dynamic train loading on/in the embankment and subsoil to facilitate the development and use of soil constitutive models; (c) Predicting the embankment and subsoil behaviour under train loading to facilitate the assessment of stability risk as a function of axle load, speed, train frequency/length, at a certain location with certain hydraulic conditions; (d) Facilitating the determination of equivalent load for 2D static and dynamic LEM or FEM analyses; (e) Bridging laboratory tests and field tests for the development of new measurement and monitoring.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Mechanical, Civil, Geotechnical or Aerospace Engineering or a related field. Knowledge of continuum mechanics and experience in finite element modelling are required. 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 € 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 Advice to 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
  • TUD03004


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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