CMU’s key development towards world-class railway track foundation structure

4 June 2021

Corporate Communication and Alumni Relations Center (CCARC)

En route to the economic infrastructure development of innovation-driven Thailand 4.0, a target industry of the future is aviation and logistics that maximise the connection efficiency of domestic and international transportation. This also includes railway. As such, the construction of a double-track railway is necessary. The project would allow bi-directional travel and improve transportation capacity, particularly regarding speed since this kind of train enables greater acceleration. Chiang Mai University, equipped with civil engineering insight, joined the ‘Railway Alliance’ network to improve the railway industry. This partnership has given rise to the Chiang Mai University Advanced Railway Civil and Foundation Engineering Centre (CMU RailCFC) with the support of Clinical Professor and President of CMU Dr. Niwes Nanthachit, M.D., who recognised the importance of the technological study of railway infrastructure.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Peerapong Jitsangiam, director of CMU RailCFC, has explained that the operation is divided into three phases. The first phase will focus on the cooperation among group members to establish an advanced laboratory for railway infrastructure technology. This lab will provide a one-stop service for railway sleeper testing and allow for collaboration with educational institutions overseas. The second phase involves applying for a research grant from a national funding body to research track ballast. We need to build six to seven double-track railway routes, which requires an enormous amount of track ballast. The study will investigate the possibility of using a mixture of deteriorated track ballast with a new ballast to minimise the environmental impacts due to blasting. If this works, Thailand will be able to build a double-track railway in line with the SDGs and thus improve sustainability. Finally, in the third phase in 2024, a full operation combining research, testing, and teaching support will commence and there will be greater involvement in international-scale research. The Centre has also considered the integration of future technology into railway development, especially wireless sensor technology. At the moment, the research team has successfully developed a measurement device called ‘Smart Rock’ to be planted in the rails. This is CMU’s first project as part of this initiative. The device behaves like a track ballast rock and deteriorates every time a train passes by. It then measures deterioration, examines rotation, and sends a signal indicating the changes it has experienced in precise numbers back to the responsible sectors in real-time. This allows repair and maintenance to be made without waiting for damages to occur.

Through research and innovation, CMU, with the driving force of CMU RailCFC, will play a key role in Thailand’s progress. CMU RailCFC will help railway transportation support economic promotion and will become a main actor in building the country’s body of knowledge on railway infrastructure technology.