Twelve teams of student engineers will compete to build the best locomotive at this year’s Railway Challenge held by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at the Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, this July.

Teams include:

• University of Birmingham

• Bombardier/Derby University • Brunel University

• FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences

• Manchester Metropolitan University

• University of Huddersfield (winners in 2013)

• SNC-Lavalin (winners in 2012 and 2016)

• University of Sheffield

• University of Southampton

• TfL (winners in 2014 and 2015)

• WMG, University of Warwick

Says Philippa Oldham, head of transport and manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, ‘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.’

The competition is comprised of a series of track-based and presentation challenges, including a design report and an ‘Innovation Challenge’ which involves the production of an academic paper on the innovations in the loco. The track- based challenges include energy storage, traction, ride comfort, noise, maintainability and energy efficiency.

The locomotives that will be competing are designed to work on 101⁄4” gauge railway line and must be powerful enough to transport a 600kg load – including one of the Railway Challenge judges.

Adds Philippa, ‘Each year the entries impress the judges with new innovations, of particular note are the solutions proposed for the energy storage and energy efficiency challenges. These are two big issues currently being faced by manufacturers and so solving these challenges could mean that these young engineers could help to revolutionise our modern railways.’