In 2013, the Rail
Transportation and Engineering Center
(RailTEC) within the Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering (CEE) at University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign embarked on a
mission to design and construct a laboratory
with the primary objective of improving the
performance and design of railway
infrastructure and its components. To achieve
this objective, the 3,500 square foot Research
and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) was conceived
and located in the Harry Schnabel, Jr.
building on the CERL campus.
RAIL currently houses
multiple testing frames which provide the
ability to conduct experiments on railway
infrastructure and mechanical components
including crossties and fastening systems.
RAIL provides researchers with the necessary
tools to study various infrastructure
components at the material, component, and
The cornerstone of RAIL is
the Track Loading System (TLS) which provides
researchers the ability to perform static and
dynamic experimentation on railway
superstructure and rolling stock mechanical
components and full-depth track substructures.
The data gathered from TLS experimentation
also provides researchers the ability to
develop new and validate previous railway
infrastructure analytical models.
Additional information about
the laboratory and current laboratory
capabilities are provided within this
The construction and
operation of RAIL would not have been possible
without the financial and in-kind support of
the National University Rail (NURail) Center,
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal
Transit Administration (FTA), Amsted Rail,
Progress Rail Services, CN, LB Foster - CXT
Concrete Ties, Hanson Professional Services,
TTX Inc., and the Department of Civil and
Environmental Environmental Engineering at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.