Research Division

RTRI has 13 research divisions and cover total fields of R&D in railways.

Vehicle Structure Technology Division

Our division is composed of Vehicle Dynamics, Running Gear, Vehicle Noise & Vibration, and Vehicle & Bogie Parts Strength. Making solutions for problems concerning vehicle structure is our mission to progress R&D to the next generation.

  • Vehicle Dynamics

    Vehicle Dynamics is in charge of running safety assessments of the derailment and overthrow of railway vehicle, new method of measurement and data analysis of vehicle vibration, and measurement and simulation of vehicle characteristics of vibrations.

  • Running Gear

    Running Gear is in charge of new method of assessment of vehicle motion characteristics by hybrid simulators, new technologies about car such as a pendulum, steering, and the control systems for suppressing vertical vibration.

  • Vehicle Noise & Vibration

    Vehicle Noise & Vibration is in charge of technology about assessment, analysis, and decreasing of the car body elastic vibration and the interior noise of vehicle / car motion analysis with the multi body dynamics / improvement of car motion characteristic by ground unevenness.

  • Vehicle & Bogie Parts Strength

    Vehicle & Bogie Parts Strength is in charge of the evaluation of fatigue strengths in the wheel, axle, bogie frame and car body, and researches in the non-destructive testing methods such as the ultrasonic flaw detection, and researches in the crashworthiness of vehicle body.

Vehicle Control Technology Division

Our division is composed of Traction Control, Hydrogen and Sustainable Energy, Drive systems, and Brake Control. R&D of new train control method to next generation is our mission.

  • Traction Control

    Traction Control is in charge of energy conservation and storage of vehicle, re-adhesion control in slipping or sliding, degrade of electronic equipment for vehicle, and general electric car such as EMC.

  • Hydrogen & Sustainable Energy

    Hydrogen & Sustainable Energy is in charge of Hydrogen technology such as fuel cell vehicle, new kind of energy, and evaluation of energy consumption of vehicle.

  • Drive systems

    Drive systems is in charge of system in vehicle such as new energy, hybrid and diesel technology, and machine such as motor, inverter, and engine. And also, development and evaluation of measurement method of railway noise and vibration are progressed.

  • Brake Control

    Brake Control is in charge of technical development and evaluation of whole brake system in not only commuting train and freight train but also high-speed bullet train like Shinkansen.

Structures Technology Division

Structures Technology division is composed of five laboratories: Concrete Structures, Steel & Hybrid Structures, Foundation & Geotechnical Engineering, Tunnel Engineering, and Architecture. Research and development related to design and maintenance of structures and buildings, earthquake resistant, etc., are progressed.

  • Concrete Structures

    Research and development of concrete structures: such as RC and PC bridges, and railway viaducts.

  • Steel & Hybrid Structures

    Steel & Hybrid Structures is in charge of hybrid structure made from steel and concrete, and steel bridge.

  • Foundation & Geotechnical Engineering

    Foundation & Geotechnical Engineering is in charge of soil structure such as a railway embankment and a bridge foundation.

  • Tunnel Engineering

    Tunnel Engineering is in charge of tunnels in mountain and city area.

  • Architecture

    Architecture is in charge of architectures such as stations.

Power Supply Technology Division

We are engaged in research and development on a new railway power supply system apposite to the 21st century. Railway power supply system is a technology to provide a stable power to electric rolling stocks; as our research fields: power conversion at substations, feeding system, structural design and materials of overhead contact line system, and their measurement and maintenance.

  • Power Supply Systems

    Power Supply Systems laboratory is in charge of AC and DC feeding systems.

  • Current Collection Maintenance

    Current Collection Maintenance laboratory is in charge of maintenance and materials of overhead contact line system, which consists of overhead contact lines and pantographs.

  • Contact Line Structure

    Contact Line Structure laboratory is in charge of structural design of overhead contact line system and measurement techniques of current collection phenomenon.

Track Technology Division

Our division is composed of Track Structures & Components, Track Structures & Geotechnology, Track Geometry & Maintenance, and Rail Welding. We are developing the hardware and the software about railway track technologies, which correspond to needs of railway companies, for "improvement of safety", "speeding-up", "efficiency of maintenance", "cost reduction" and "reduction of noise and vibration". Also, projects of technical criteria and international standard in railway track are progressed.

  • Track Structures & Components

    Track Structures & Components is in charge of structures of track, such as rail, rail fastener, turnout, expansion joint, and continuous welded rail.

  • Track Structures & Geotechnology

    Track Structures & Geotechnology is in charge of the maintenance-free track and roadbed for new lines, the method of improvement of ballasted track and soft roadbed and subgrade of railway lines in operation, countermeasures for noise and vibration, and reuse of building and industrial byproducts.

  • Track Geometry & Maintenance

    Track Geometry & Maintenance is in charge of track geometry management approaches and track maintenance machinery to support safety and comfortable operation from local railway to Shinkansen line.

  • Rail Welding

    Rail Welding is in charge of the method of welding procedure and quality assessments of continuous welded rails to improve reliability in railway transport.

Disaster Prevention Technology Division

Our division is composed of Meteorological Disaster Prevention, Geo-hazard & Risk Mitigation and Geology. Prevention of natural disasters along railway due to raining, strong wind, snow, and weathering is our mission. In addition, researches related to a ground environmental problem are progressed such as assessment and evaluation technology related to geographical features, geology, and ground water and ground vibration by train running.

  • Meteorological Disaster Prevention

    Meteorological Disaster Prevention is in charge of making solutions of mechanism, and prevention and mitigation of suffering about accidents of railways due to weather phenomenon such as strong wind and snow.

  • Geo-hazard & Risk Mitigation

    Geo-hazard & Risk Mitigation is in charge of the prevention and mitigation of ground disasters due to raining, earthquake, or river level rising or flooding in a sloop disaster and a bridge scour disaster.

  • Geology

    Geology is in charge of R&D related to ground water problems in construction work, construction and maintenance of tunnel, rock slope stability, quality of ballast, and prediction and countermeasures of ground vibration along railway.

Signalling & Transport Information Technology Division

The Signalling & Transport Information Technology Division is composed of five laboratories of Signalling Systems, Train Control Systems, Telecommunications and Networking, Transport Operation Systems, and Transport Planning and Marketing. The division’s aim is to contribute to enhanced safety, reliability, and convenience through the research and development of signalling systems and safety assessment of them, communication network technology including mobile radio communication, demand forecasting, transportation planning and traffic operation, and condition monitoring technology of facilities.

  • Signalling Systems

    The Signalling Systems laboratory is in charge of research and development of signal equipment containing track circuits, ATP (Automatic Train Protection), switch machines, and applied research of image processing. This lab is also in charge of safety assessment of signalling systems and finding causes of failure, and inductive obstruction assessment of signalling equipment in new cars.

  • Train Control Systems

    The Train Control Systems laboratory is in charge of the research and development of train control systems with new technologies and safety assessments of signalling systems.

  • Telecommunications & Networking

    The Telecommunications & Networking laboratory is in charge of the research and development of railway applications of communication technology with mobile radio communication and communication networks, sensor networks, and information processing technologies including analysis of monitoring data, and mathematical optimizations. This lab is also in charge of assessment of radio interference and inductive interference along railway lines.

  • Transport Operation Systems

    The Transport Operation Systems laboratory is in charge of the research and development of systems and algorithms, the analysis of train delay, congestion and passenger flow in transport, to support transport operations.

  • Transport Planning & Marketing

    The Transport Planning & Marketing laboratory is in charge of the research and development of transport planning centering on railway transport, passenger flow analysis and quantitative evaluation of customer needs, traffic planning support systems, economic evaluations of rail transport, and multi-modal freight transport.

Materials Technology Division

Material Technology Division deals with the development and the evaluation of the various materials used in the railway system. For that purpose we also examine the methods of the analysis necessary for understanding the mechanism of the phenomenon. Five laboratories below are working in their research field. And the division itself carries out the researches of environmental impact assessment of the railway system and new materials for railway.

  • Concrete Materials

    Concrete Materials is researching and developing analysis, diagnosis, evaluation, and repairing technologies for degradational phenomenon of railway concrete structures such as elevated structures, tunnel lining, track slab, and pole.

  • Vibration-Isolating Materials

    Vibration-Isolating Materials is in charge of polymeric materials such as vibration isolating material like axis spring rubber, floor material, materials for vibration suppression, soundproof, and protection material for structures, and track pads.

  • Lubricating Materials

    Lubricating Materials focuses on two fields: rolling bearings equipped with the running gears of railway vehicles, and lubricating oil and grease using for the rolling bearings, the driving device and the wheel/rail contact areas.

  • Frictional Materials

    Frictional Materials is dealing with the various tribological materials used in the railway system such as a wheel, a rail, a contact strip and a brake block. Further Frictional Materials group is devoted to the researches on the development of the materials with the high performance from a tribological aspect and the clarification of the mechanism of friction, wear, and rolling contact fatigue.

  • Applied Superconductivity

    Applied Superconductivity is dealing with superconductivity application equipment. Also, making new materials and evaluations of physicality to improve superconducting characteristics of high-temperature superconducting materials.

Railway Dynamics Division

The main subject of Railway Dynamics Division is the dynamics of the railway structures, tracks, vehicles and overhead contact lines. The main investigations are the dynamic interaction problems between railway structures, tracks and vehicles, between wheel and rail, and between pantograph and catenary. In order to propose the innovative technologies for improving performance, safety and efficiency of railway system, it is essential to carry out basic researches on such interface problems. The laboratories in Railway Dynamics Division cooperate closely with each other and also the other divisions such as Structures Technology, Track Technology, Vehicle Structure Technology and Power Supply Technology Divisions. In addition, applied researches and developments such as design and maintenance standards, new bogie structures and new track structure are carried out, enhancing the outputs of basic researches.

  • Vehicle Mechanics

    Vehicle mechanics laboratory addresses tasks to elucidate the phenomena related the dynamics of railway vehicles in order to improve the running safety and the riding comfort. Vehicle dynamics during earthquake, wear performance of wheel and rail, and aerodynamic vibration of vehicle, which are issues to be solved with other research field, are our initial research topics. We are also tackling new vehicle devices to improve the motion ability such as single axle truck with improved isolation performance, dampers generating high-damping force at high-speed range.

  • Current Collection

    Main research area of this laboratory is dynamic behavior between overhead contact lines and pantograph for improving current collection performance. We are also addressing development of measurement equipments to grapple with dynamic behavior of catenary system. Furthermore, reducing aero-acoustic noise emitted from pantograph for high speed train is our major challenge.

  • Track Dynamics

    Track dynamics laboratory focuses on the research topics such as adhesion phenomenon between wheel and rail under various contact conditions; generation mechanism of rolling contact fatigue, damage and wear; dynamic response characteristics of ballast railway track by the running vehicle and its destruction mechanism, by means of theoretical and experimental simulations methods.

  • Structural Mechanics

    The main objective of the research of Structural Mechanics Laboratory is to pursue the ideal structure and track which improve running safety of railway vehicle, reduce disaster damage, improve harmony with an environment and efficiency of maintenance, and reduce total cost. For this objective, we are working on researches about improving numerical simulation techniques, constructing measurement and evaluation method, and developing new types of structures based on numerical simulation and experiments.

  • Computational Mechanics

    Computational Mechanics Laboratory works to introduce the advanced analysis technique using HPC (High performance Computing), with the goal of clarifying dynamic phenomenon to optimize the railway system. In particular, we are promoting analysis of dynamic behavior of rolling contact between wheel and rail in high frequency region and precise analysis of aerodynamic characteristic for railway vehicle using large-scale parallel computing, in order to resolve problems specific to railway.

Environmental Engineering Division

Our division is composed of Vehicle Aerodynamics Laboratory, Heat and Air Flow Analysis Laboratory, and Noise Analysis Laboratory Environment is a serious problem for human in the 21th century so that realization of environmentally friendly railway is strongly required from society. Japanese environmental researches and countermeasures such as 300 km/h operation of Shinkansen and 500km/h operation of levitation system railway are attracted around the world. Our aim is to lead environmental countermeasures of railways in the world keeping close cooperation with other railway companies, utilizing our testing facilities such as RTRI’s Large-Scale Low-Noise Wind Tunnel and research methods that have been developed up to now.

  • Vehicle Aerodynamics

    Vehicle Aerodynamics Laboratory is in charge of aerodynamic characteristic of the vehicle under the crosswind, air resistance of the vehicle, unsteady aerodynamic force on the vehicle running in a tunnel, and pressure and velocity change due to the train passage in open section.

  • Heat & Air Flow Analysis

    Heat & Air Flow Analysis Laboratory is in charge of the pressure wave that is emitted from the tunnel portal such as micro-pressure wave, and the air flow, heat and ventilation in the tunnel.

  • Noise Analysis

    Noise Analysis Laboratory develops the studies on sound source analysis and measures of the railway noise, and the researches on wheel/rail noise, bridge noise and aerodynamic noise.

Human Science Division

Our division is composed of four laboratories: Safety Psychology, Ergonomics, Safety Analysis, and Biotechnology. Our research covers Human factors contributing to improving safety and comfort of railways, and technical support and safety actions of operation aptitude inspections with knowledge of human science.

  • Safety Psychology

    Safety Psychology is in charge of psychology aptitude test for train driver operation staff and method of safety educations as prevention of accidents with human errors by employees.

  • Ergonomics

    Ergonomics is in charge of enhanced comfort, safety and usability in trains and facilities for passengers, improving work environment for employees, and environment of educations and training.

  • Safety Analysis

    Safety Analysis is in charge of supporting to promote safety management and safety climate.

  • Biotechnology

    Biotechnology is in charge of various themes to promote safety and comfort related to biological systems. Ongoing major projects are Safety evaluation of magnetic field, Improvement of air quality by prevention of odors caused by fungi, construction materials or other factors and Prevention of train-animal collision, especially with deer.

Maglev Systems Technology Division

The Maglev Systems Technology Division is conducting fundamental research on the superconducting magnetically levitated transport system (superconducting Maglev), such as on the characteristics of linear motors, vehicle dynamics, superconducting magnets and their refrigeration systems, and ground coils. Furthermore, in order to apply advanced technologies cultivated from the development of the superconducting Maglev system to conventional railways, the Division is also conducting research on technologies such as flywheels with superconducting magnetic bearings and linear-induction-motor-type eddy-current brakes with power regenerative functions.
In order to conduct the research described above, the Division has two laboratories, in the fields of Electromagnetic Systems and Cryogenic Systems, and the Yamanashi Maglev Test Center.

  • Electromagnetic Systems

    Research and development of technology for the superconducting Maglev system including ground coils and vehicle dynamics, and applications for conventional railway systems such as non-contact power supply systems.

  • Cryogenic Systems

    Research and development of technology for the superconducting Maglev system such as superconducting magnets and their refrigeration systems, and applications for conventional railway systems such as superconducting-flywheel power storage systems and air conditioning systems.

Center for Railway Earthquake Engineering Research

In massive earthquake, the risk of disaster tends to be wide and complicated. To realize safer and more secure railway, it is important to summarize resources about seismic design, seismic diagnosis, earthquake countermeasures, and early warning system. Our mission is to be only one base of railway earthquake engineering in Japan.
Our division is composed of three laboratories, Seismic Data Analysis, Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, and Structural Dynamics and Response Control.

  • Seismic Data Analysis

    Seismic Data Analysis is in charge of earthquake warning, earthquake disaster prevention system, and earthquake damage estimation.

  • Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering

    Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering is in charge of seismic ground motion, ground behavior, and development of liquefaction countermeasure.

  • Structural Dynamics and Response Control

    Structural Dynamics and Response Control is in charge of seismic response of railway structure, vehicle, and train line equipment, as well as its reduction using seismic isolation and vibration control.