Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung

Berlin, Germany

With a history dating back to the late 19th century, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) has a long-standing presence in the field of material research and testing. It originated from the State Material Testing Office in 1871 and later, the Chemical-Technical Reichsanstalt in 1920, and has evolved over time to keep pace with technological advancements. BAM currently employs 1600 people and operates as a Federal Institute under the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, with a mission focused on research, testing, and consultation to ensure safety in technology and chemistry. The institution is dedicated to setting and maintaining rigorous safety standards, both nationally and internationally. BAM’s research is structured around five thematic fields: Energy, Infrastructure, Environment, Material, and Analytical Sciences, which collectively contribute to enhancing safety in technology and chemistry. 

The Department of Structural Safety is dedicated to advancing the realm of civil engineering through the exploration of novel construction materials and techniques. This encompasses a comprehensive examination and assessment of the robustness and longevity of construction materials, building components, and structures when exposed to intricate mechanical, environmental, and corrosive conditions, including fire. This scrutiny spans the entirety of a structure’s lifecycle, encompassing considerations for potential recycling. 

In the realm of railway research, significant achievements have been made through a series of projects, publications, and services. This includes railway bridge dynamics, railway-induced ground vibrations, safety and durability of sleepers, and structural health monitoring of railway bridges. Considering the safety of high-speed railway infrastructure, the vertical and lateral stability of ballasted tracks was examined with large-scale shake-table tests.  

Relevant experience from projects or activities related with railways and bridge dynamics: 

  • 1980s: numerous projects on rail-track-interaction and railway vibrations on subgrade and bridges for the introduction of German High-Speed lines   
  • ERRI D214 Ballast Box Tests (1997) – Ballast box tests conducted in 1997, considering the behavior of Under Ballast Mats, have provided valuable insights into railway infrastructure performance and safety. 
  • Ballast Shake Table Tests (2001) – Research on specific load scenarios at ballasted tracks on vibrating bridges conducted by Mott MacDonald Ltd in 2001 contributed to a deeper understanding of dynamic loads on railway structures. 
  • Track Settlement at Bridges (2003-2004) – Deutsche Bahn’s project involving track settlement at bridge decks and bridge abutments conducted between 2003 and 2004 used specially designed model test rigs to study and mitigate settlement issues. 
  • PhD Project by Matthias Baeßler (2008) – PhD research on the settlement and stability of ballasted tracks under cyclic and dynamic loading, finalized in 2008, has been instrumental in advancing railway engineering knowledge. 
  • RIVAS – Railway Induced Vibration Abatement Solutions (2011-2013) – The FP7-TRANSPORT project RIVAS focused on abatement solutions for railway-induced vibrations. It included lab testing, track measurements, and modeling efforts to address vibration-related challenges in railway infrastructure. 
  • AISTec (2017-2021): Evaluation of ageing infrastructure with digital tools.   
  • Infrastructure and Technical Equipment: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research  
    BAM boasts a well-equipped testing laboratory with a large-scale testing area featuring flexibly adaptable testing stations. One notable piece of equipment is the ballast track model test box, which plays a pivotal role in modeling and simulating loaded track sections, particularly on vibrating bridge decks. This infrastructure is essential for conducting comprehensive research and testing in the field of railway engineering, ensuring the safety and resilience of railway structures. 

Website: www.bam.de