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.

The iSMART Consortium

Newcastle University logo

BGS logo

Durham University

Loughborough University

Queen's University, Belfast logo

University of Southampton

Funded by

EPSRC logo

iSMART has been superseded by ACHILLES

The ACHILLES programme is a continuum of the iSMART project and involves experts from the universities of Newcastle, Southampton, Durham, Loughborough, Leeds and Bath, as well as the British Geological Survey, major infrastructure owners and their consultants. ACHILLES aims to examine how ‘long linear infrastructure assets’, such as our roads, railway embankments, pipeline bedding and flood protection structures, can be better maintained and monitored to make them more resilient for the future.

To find out more about the ACHILLES research programme, please go to:

remediated railway embankment
iSMART contact

EPSRC project EP/K027050/1
Principal Investigator
Prof Stephanie Glendinning
Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Newcastle University, UK

Work packages

WP1 – user impact and management
WP2 – characterisation of materials
WP3 – modelling of slope systems
WP4 – asset management strategies