AAR Strategic Research Initiatives

Industry-led research focused on the future of rail.

Together, we safely experiment, learn, adapt, and advance the rail industry.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the AAR, MxV Rail was created to support the North American railway industry’s co-operative research program known as the Strategic Research Initiatives (SRI). Our role is to develop, maintain and expand the industry’s subject matter expertise, while advancing research capabilities and tools that support the long-term safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability of the railways. The SRI program is funded annually by the AAR and guided by representatives from AAR Members and Associates. Among dozens of SRI research areas associated with infrastructure, rolling stock and operations, the Facility for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST) is the heart of the program. FAST combines full-scale rolling stock and track testing in a controlled environment and frequent track maintenance windows for test setup and data collection. In a typical year, 30+ experiments accumulate 140+ million gross tons (MGT) and 20,000+ train miles under the watchful eye of MxV Rail’s research team .

Strategic Research Initiative Focus Areas

Optimize current wheel and rail profiles and identify best-practice approaches to rail maintenance.

Identify root causes of wheel failure, evaluate mitigation strategies, and evaluate performance of new wheel materials and maintenance practices through computational modeling, laboratory testing, and service testing.

Model and predict infrastructure- and mechanical-system inspection and maintenance needs using big data analytics to support enhancements to resource-allocation decision-making and analyze wayside detector information to minimize accidents caused by impaired equipment.

Develop, evaluate, and implement improved methods for detecting and quantifying defects on the surface and within wheels and axles.

Evaluate existing and prototype brake systems and develop recommendations for system performance improvement.

Identify root causes of bearing failure, evaluate mitigation strategies, and evaluate performance of new bearing materials and maintenance practices through computational modeling, laboratory testing, and service testing.

Evaluate means to reduce failures with current components and develop recommendations for improved components.

Develop methods for data-based speed restrictions, evaluate new designs, and promote modernization of car design specifications.

Develop, evaluate, and implement innovative wayside, on-board and automated inspection systems for rolling stock.

Examine the causes and control measures for in-train forces and their effects on rolling stock and track structure. Evaluate potential means to reduce the energy input to move trains.

Develop, evaluate, and implement operational concepts for enhanced train control and communication.

Develop, evaluate, and implement operational concepts to support continuous innovation and ensure interoperability of PTC systems.

Support and oversee fundamental research at academic research institutions aimed toward development of new technologies for the rail industry.

Participate in global research knowledge transfer, access new and emerging technologies from rail transportation research organizations around the world, and facilitate implementation of new technologies into revenue service.

Analyze industry data to ensure that research and technology projects are focused on maximum safety benefits.

Provide controlled testing of track components and structures under a 114-car, 18,000-ton train on a closed loop of test track.

Provide real-world testing and evaluation of new technology and maintenance practices on Class-1 railroad property, under scientific control, following successful testing at FAST.

Develop, evaluate, and implement new bridge designs, bridge fitness for service assessments and maintenance strategies through computational modeling and in-track testing.

Identify root causes of rail failure, evaluate mitigation strategies, and evaluate performance of new rail materials and maintenance practices through computational modeling, laboratory testing, and in-track testing.

Identify root causes of weld failure, evaluate mitigation strategies, and evaluate performance of new weld materials and maintenance practices through computational modeling, laboratory testing, and in-track testing.

Develop, evaluate, and implement improved methods for detecting and quantifying defects on the surface and within rails and rail welds.

Assesses current and new track system designs including tie/fastener life extension studies.

Develop and evaluate longer lasting and lower maintenance special trackwork designs and components for implementation in revenue service.

Evaluate the effects of increased loads and traffic on ballast and subgrade, and evaluate improved substructure maintenance practices and technologies.

Develop and evaluate new technologies for inspecting ballast and subgrade.

Mitigate the effects of longitudinal forces in continuous welded rail due to temperature and other factors.

Investigate and evaluate non-traditional track inspection technologies such as autonomous systems.

Identify root causes for and develop countermeasures against rolling contact fatigue (RCF) damage.

Our team of industry experts is ready to answer your research questions.