Reliability/Risk-Based Modelling for Assessing Railway Embankment Stability


Job description

The current reliability framework for the stability assessment of railway embankments is derived from the general-purpose Eurocode standards that may be overly conservative in their implementation in the current guideline. This project will contribute to developing a new framework, by revisiting the approach to achieving target safety levels for railway embankments and the underlying assumptions from the Eurocode standards. It will include consideration of full and semi-probabilistic approaches, partial factors, characteristic values, target reliability levels, fragility curves, various data sources and real-time modelling, and builds on the advances made by TU Delft in assessing flood defence infrastructure through the NWO project Reliable Dykes.

This project aims to: (a) enhance the reliability/risk-based framework, which is tailored to the characteristics of loads and resistances in Dutch railway embankments, through advanced probabilistic modelling techniques; (b) account for the site characterisation of embankments and subsoil layers, including the statistical characterisation of geometric and geologic features, and the spatial variability of soil properties within soil layers; (c) perform 2D and 3D numerical modelling of embankment reliability, leading to the development of 3D stochastic (e.g. Random Finite Element Method) models for reliability-based assessments of embankment stability and allowing for material behaviours including creep and strain localization; (d) develop and validate numerical tools for application in engineering practice.

The project will be done in close collaboration with other projects within the research program RESET – “Reliable Embankments for the Safe Expansion of Rail Traffic” – a joint initiative between ProRail, Deltares and TU Delft.


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Geotechnical Engineering or a related field. The candidate should have a strong background in numerical modelling and soil mechanics, and have a genuine interest and aptitude for the development, computer implementation and application of numerical and probabilistic-based algorithms. The candidate should have excellent computer programming skills, proficiency in verbal and written English, and experience with team-work.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

Within the research program RESET, ProRail, Deltares, and TU Delft will work together to investigate the behaviour of moving trains on rail embankments, with special attention to increasing train frequency and trainloads and effects of climate change. TU Delft will recruit 8 PhD students and 2 postdocs to work in this research program. One PhD position is available on reliability/risk-based modelling for assessing railway embankment stability. This position will be within the Section of Geo-Engineering in the Department of Geoscience and Engineering.

For additional information (other than application procedure), please contact Prof. Michael Hicks, e-mail: m.a.hicks@tudelft.nl.  

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 12 September 2022 via the application button and upload your letter of motivation and CV, along with the names and contact details of 2 referees.

  • You can only apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.


访问项目链接 招生网站
欧陆, 荷兰 所在地点
带薪项目 项目类别
截止日期 2022-09-12




邮箱: info@tudelft.nl 电话: +31 (0)15 27 89111