Swindon graduates gear up for national competition to build best locomotive

By Anita Jaynes on 8 June, 2015

A team of five graduates from TE Connectivity based in Swindon are gearing up to compete at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Railway Challenge, taking place in late June at the Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

This will be the first time TE Connectivity has taken part in the competition which is now in its fourth year. The team will be pitting themselves against seven other teams to design and manufacture the best, most efficient and quietest small-scale locomotive.

The competition will see teams compete against each other to design and manufacture the best, most efficient and quietest small-scale locomotive. The teams competing against TE Connectivity this year are: Birmingham University, Huddersfield University, Interfleet Technology Ltd (based in Derby, who won in 2012), Sheffield University, Southampton University, Transport for London (who were last year’s winners) and Warwick Manufacturing Group (part of the University of Warwick).

The competition comprises of two presentation challenges, one of which is the submission of a design report and the other being a business case presentation, and six track based challenges which will be decided over the weekend.  These include: energy storage, traction, ride comfort, noise and new for the 2015 competition maintainability and energy efficiency.

Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The Railway Challenge gives competitors a fantastic chance to test their engineering skills and get the hands-on experience of what’s needed to make a locomotive from start to finish.

“The competition is run along the lines of a real-life tendering process, and teams have to prepare a business case, finance, design, and build a locomotive from scratch.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the new innovations in this year’s locomotives, particularly the solutions that are being proposed for both the energy storage and energy efficiency challenges.  These are two big issues currently being faced by manufacturers and the solutions these young engineers have developed as part of this competition could one day revolutionise modern railways.

“This year looks set to be a tight contest, with more teams than ever and three previous winners taking part.”

Tom Moore, Lead Development Engineer at TE Rail and IMechE Railway Challenge team supervisor from TE Connectivity said: “The Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Railway Challenge is an exciting opportunity for our young graduate engineers to accelerate their learning of railway rolling stock systems and the commercial challenges faced by the rail industry.

“They have had to increase their knowledge about the various systems used in modern rolling-stock and their inter-dependence with each other. The team has also been challenged to think about the manufacturability, maintainability, reliability and the commercial business case for their loco as well as ensuring it can meet all the physical challenges set-out in the Railway Challenge.”

“As the team supervisor I’ve been extremely impressed to see how the team has worked together to meet the challenge, with all of them pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones and embracing the challenge ahead of them.”

The locomotives that will be competing are designed to work on 101Ž4” gauge railway line and must be powerful enough to transport a 600kg load – including one of the Railway Challenge judges.

The trophy will be presented to the winning team by Professor Richard Folkson, President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, on Sunday 28 June 2015.

The Railway Challenge will be taking place at Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire on 26 to 28 June 2015.  Steam hauled spectator trains will also be running on the railway.

For more information about the Railway Challenge visit: www.imeche.org//RailwayChallenge

Pictured above: The TE Connectivity team