Industrial motivations

In the last decade, a growing number of railways and other civil or industrial infrastructures have been designed and/or built in arid regions worldwide. The corresponding investments are significant: the Middle East Countries have allocated about USD 259 billion to build 40.000 km of railway tracks up to 2030. A growing demand for designing, building and maintaining such railway networks is expected in the next 20-30 years. European Industry offers the leading overall expertise in designing railway lines thanks to its long term engineering tradition and experience.

In arid environmentswindblown sand can have major negative impacts on railway infrastructures in terms of safety and serviceability issues. Windblown sand affects railway safety because of dunes migrating onto the track, windblown loose sand accumulating on the railway structure, trapping of immobile trains, and derailment of running trains. Windblown sand reduces railway serviceability and increases maintenance costs because of ballast contamination, asymmetric rail grinding and wheel profiling, and burial of signal controls.


SMaRT aims to:

  • Innovate the sand mitigation research field, by:
  • advancing competences in the main scientific fields involved (mechanics of fluid and granular media, wind engineering, aeolian geomorphology), and their convergence in a multidisciplinary approach for design and analysis;
  • generating a computational based engineering approach to the design of Sand Mitigation Measures;
  • developing a new approach to the modelling and simulation of the coupled multiphase wind-sand system;
  • designing standard operating procedures and competences for operational design, evaluation and field testing of Sand Mitigation Measures.
  • Innovate the ESR training process, by means of:
  • multidisciplinary doctoral training programme incorporating the development of both design capabilities in addition to analysis skills;
  • an academy-industry intersectoral doctoral framework integrating the innovation ability of the former and the stimuli for research stemming from the industrial and commercial needs of the latter
  • Enrich and complement the competences of the European Railway Industry in civil works, railway superstructure, and signalling systems.
Work Packages

SMaRT comprises three individual, collaborative ESR projects and corresponding Work Packages (WP). They are functional to the objectives described above:

  • WP1 is devoted to the computational-based conceptual design of innovative Sand Mitigation Measures (SMM), fuelled by the deep understanding of the their aerodynamic behaviour, and to the performance assessment of the SMMs;
  • WP2 is devoted to the physical and mathematical modelling of the windblown sand phenomena, and to the development of suitable computational methods to be used in SMM performance assessment;
  • WP3 is devoted to evaluating the requirements for differing SMM approaches at a landscape scale, incorporating these geomorphological perspectives into the design and operation of SMMs, and field testing of SMM deployments.

In addition:

  • WP4 is devoted to the training of the ESRs in a multidisciplinary and intersectoral framework;
  • WP5 deals with the public communication, scientific dissemination, and industrial exploitation of the obtained results in the European Railway Industry and in railway projects beyond Europe.