AEROVIAV is a research project that aims to develop two new solutions to help mitigate the aerodynamic phenomena that affect track ballast along high-speed railway lines. The performance of such lines is reduced in cases where rolling stock travel in excess of 250km/h, as a result primarily of the way in which gravel is lifted by the movement of air, known as ballast flight.

The project is led by Foresa, which in partnership with ACCIONA and Metalúrgica Cuevas, form the core of AEROVIAV. ITER’s involvement is as one of a number of subcontractors.

ITER’s role in the project is the full-scale appraisal of the solutions developed to minimise high-speed railway ballast flight, with testing conducted on three possible scenarios: without a solution; implementing a physical solution; and implementing a chemical solution.

The first phase of the project consisted in wind tunnel tests aimed at, firstly, reproducing the phenomenon that causes ballast flight, in order to validate the testing model, and, secondly, assessing the effectiveness of prospective physical and chemical solutions to the problem. In this first phase, the initial performance of a potential physical solution led to its being redesigned and being subjected to a second round of tests.

The second phase consisted in evaluating these solutions, which were developed in Brihuega testing and validation centre, in a real railway setting, namely along the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed line. During this phase, the tests were similar to those conducted in the wind tunnel, namely: an initial study of the situation with no solution in place, and then the impact of potential physical and chemical solutions.