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Autonomous Train Servicing and Maintenance

Applications are invited for a full time PhD studentship in the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences on a research project in Autonomous Systems for Train Servicing funded jointly by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).  Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend of £17,009 plus payment of their full time home tuition fees for a period of 36 months. The start date is between 1stFebruary  and 1st October 2019.

You will join a team currently developing an experimental robotic system for train fluid servicing with TBG Solutions Ltd, in collaboration with Chiltern Railways. The plan is that this lab-based demonstrator of fluid servicing leads onto a railway demonstrator system and eventually a commercial system. Areas for further research are emerging from this industrial project, in terms of widening the scope of autonomous systems for performing tasks that are dirty, dull or dangerous for humans. Such systems will generate data on the condition of the trains being serviced, providing opportunities to improve the reliability and availability of trains. Using the train servicing robot, the proposed doctoral research will initially investigate:

  • Development of digital twin technology (representing physical assets with intelligent virtual models) in the context of autonomous servicing of trains.
  • Improving autonomous train servicing through the use of digital twin technology.
  • The design of future trains for autonomous servicing.


Successful candidates must have a first degree at or equivalent to 2:1 or above in a suitable engineering discipline, e.g. mechanical engineering, design engineering, physics, or similar. A Master’s level qualification is desirable but not essential.  You must also be eligible for home tuition fees. 

Demonstrable practical engineering ability through project work. Relevant experience in autonomous systems or mechatronics is an advantage. In addition, he/she should be highly motivated, able to work in a team and have good communication skills.

How to apply

If you wish to apply, please email the following to cedps-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk AND mark.atherton@brunel.ac.uk by no later than Friday 31st May 2019:

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • Your single A4 page, single-spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your motivation and suitability for research in autonomous systems applied to servicing and maintenance.
  • Your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) confirming that you have a first degree at or equivalent to 2:1 or above in a suitable engineering discipline;
  • Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, if appropriate;
  • Names and contact details for two academic referees.

You will be asked to develop a research proposal on the application and development of a digital twin in the context of autonomous servicing of trains if you are invited for interview.