iSMART: a brief introduction

The UK’s transport infrastructure is one of the most heavily used in the world. The rail network takes 50 per cent more daily traffic than the French network; the M25 between junctions 15 and 14 carries 165 000 vehicles daily; London Underground is Europe’s largest subway.

The performance of these networks is critically dependent on the performance of the cutting and embankment slopes that make up £20 bn of the £60 bn asset value of major highway infrastructure alone. Many of these slopes are old and suffer high incidents of instability, which are increasing with time.

Our vision is to create a visualised model of transient water movement in infrastructure slopes under a range of current and future environmental scenarios based on a fundamental understanding of earthwork material and system behaviour, which can be used to create a more reliable, cost effective, safer and more sustainable transport system.

The impact of the improved slope management will be highly significant in both direct economic and indirect social and economic terms: planned maintenance costs ten times less and reduces delays caused by slope failure.

This project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and forms a unique opportunity uniting six academic institutions and combining their field, laboratory and computing facilities. With a large cohort of PhD students and an experienced stakeholder community in close collaboration as iSMART project partners, we undertake world leading science to create a long-term legacy.