Under the high-speed rail research, two inter-related projects focus on critical elements to the successful implementation of high-speed rail in Portugal and elsewhere.

One project aims to develop new lifecycle costing models and infrastructure and risk management programs to effectively derive design and maintenance strategies for high-speed rail infrastructures and operations.

The second project aims to develop a generalized global risk assessment for the HSR network, enabling the effective consideration of technical and natural hazards risks in project assessment and management. The objective is to create robust decision models for proactive risk management.


Project 1: Development of Tools for HSR Lifecycle Cost Estimation for Track Design and Maintenance (LCC) (November 2007 – October 2010)

Description: The implementation of HSR networks involves a large amount of financial support imposing, at the conception and design stage, a complete and rigorous estimation of the total costs involved in the lifecycle of the system. Using appropriated tools for HSR lifecycle costs (LCC) estimation, it is possible to minimize the final cost and, at the same time, to identify the most important aspects, and parameters, that influence the cost evaluation. However, so far the reduced practical experience available on the long-term behaviour of high-speed railway infrastructure (and no experience at very high speeds up to 350 km/h) makes it difficult to accurately estimate the efficiency of a given design or maintenance strategy. Research is required not only on LCC modelling but also particularly on the estimation of major degradation factors and on the assessment of its impact on maintenance needs. This project will address these questions by developing improved performance indicators and a Maintenance Management System for future high-speed railway, which together with a new LCC tool should contribute to the increase of HSR efficiency.

Objectives: The project is organized around the following specific objectives:

  • Performing a complete analysis and a benchmark of existing European LCC models and tools, and assessing the potential of RAMS (reliability, availability, maintainability and safety) analysis for railway infrastructure
  • Defining infrastructure performance indicators that would be able to better characterize the quality of the railway system from the structural safety, track safety and comfort point of views
  • Developing a Maintenance Management System adapted to HSR and integrating the necessary information from track state, from behaviour models for the life cycle, and from the organization as an active part of the process
  • Assessing the impact on LCC of different design and maintenance strategies for high-speed and very high-speed lines in different operational scenarios


  • Identification of global infrastructure performance indicators as well as limits for the geometrical track quality parameters (e.g. longitudinal level, alignment) considering interoperability issues;
  • Analysis of real geometrical track records and calculation of degradation rates of geometrical track quality parameters in some track stretches;
  • Numerical evaluation of dynamic loads on railway tracks for high speed lines considering different quality scenarios.

Industry Involvement: The experience and expertise of railway engineering and management organizations will be sought in all project phases.

PT Faculty: Paulo Teixeira (IST), Luís de Picado Santos (Coimbra), Rui Calçada (Porto), Raimundo Delgado (Porto)

Student Researchers on this Project: Abdur Berawy (Porto), Rui Santos (Coimbra), Fernando Poiares (IST), Rui Santos (IST)


pdf Development of Tools for HSR Lifecycle Costs Estimation for Track Design and Maintenance Management Sys. by Rui Calcada

pdf Development of Tools for HSR Lifecycle Costs Estimation for Track Design Maintenance Management Sys. , poster, MIT Portugal Program’s 1st Annual Conference, July 7, 2009.

pdf Planning Logistics for Heavy Maintenance Interventions in High Speed Railways , poster, Rui Santos, MIT Portugal Program’s 1st Annual Conference, July 7, 2009.

pdf Railway Track Degradation Mode: An Approach Based on the Evaluation of Train-track Interaction Performance , poster, Abdur Rohim Boy Berawi, MIT Portugal Program’s 1st Annual Conference, July 7, 2009.

pdf Transportation Systems Research 2008 Development Tools



Project 2: Risk Assessment and Management for High-Speed Rail Systems (RISK)
(November 2007 – October 2010)

Description: High-Speed Rail system’s construction and operation is a complicated management subject involving environmental issues, train schedules, safety, rolling stock and infrastructure reliability (transport infrastructures are critical and vulnerable). The design and safety/performance assessment of transportation facilities should include an understanding of the physical environment and also take into account various other dimensions of risk. In a global framework, technical risks as well as natural hazards risks must be considered, in both assessment and management perspectives. This project aims at incorporating environmental risks (e.g. hydrologic, geotechnical and seismic), technical risks (e.g. excessive vibrations) and robust measures into decision models for proactive risk management.

Objectives: The project is organized around the following specific objectives:

  • Characterizing hydrologic risk (rainfall and flood hazards) along the high-speed rail line
  • Characterizing geotechnical and seismic risks and establishing mitigation strategies
  • Developing, validating, and applying advanced methodologies for the analysis and assessment of the effects of mitigation measures to the risk of excessive vibrations (or deformations) in the railway track induced by the circulation of trains at high speeds
  • Developing Decision Analysis Tools for HSR construction along with the associated optimization approaches for the allocation of resources
  • Developing, validating, and applying advanced methodologies for the assessment of earthquake effects on the infrastructures of high-speed railway systems, and developing a methodology for the implementation of an integrated monitoring system for railway systems


  • Estimation of extreme rainfall events, e.g. in the form of intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves, which can be used to evaluate slope stability and flood risk and predict the frequency of unfavourable operating conditions due to intense rainfall.
    • Currently developing practical ways to estimate rainfall extremes inside these longer intervals.
    Development of enhanced geology decision-making model to predict/avoid major accidents during tunnel construction. The model allows use of parameters observed during tunnel excavation to serve as alarms and implement mitigating measures.
  • Extension of Decision Aids for Tunneling (DAT) to any linear/networked infrastructure with specific application to the high speed rail lines in Portugal, enabling cost/time prediction under uncertainty.
  • Development of optimization model using simulated annealing that allows one to optimize rail/highway alignments under a variety of technical, operational and environmental constraints.

Industry Involvement: Porto Metro, RAVE, and GEG (Geotechnical firm in Porto)

PT Faculty: José Neves (IST), Paulo Coelho (Coimbra), Maria Conceição Cunha (Coimbra), João Lima (Coimbra), M. Isabel P. de Lima (Coimbra), Luís Simões de Silva (Coimbra),

MIT Faculty: Herbert Einstein, Daniele Veneziano

Student Researchers on this Project: Ana Laura Costa (Coimbra), Yvonne Moret (MIT)


pdf Decision Analysis Tools for High Speed Rail Construction by Herbert Einstein

pdf Hydrologic Risk for High Speed Rail System by Daniele Veneziano

pdf Transportation Systems Research 2008 RISK