Zili Li obtained his BSc and MCs degrees in Mechanical Engineering at Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China. He obtained his PhD degree in Computational Mechanics on numerical solution of rolling contact at Delft University of Technology in 2002.

He worked between 1999 and 2005 at TNO, the Dutch organization for applied sciences, on multibody dynamics and finite element methods, as well as their applications in crashworthiness. He joined the group of Railway Engineering in 2005. He chairs the group of Rail Systems & Monitoring.

research interest

  • Wheel-rail contact mechanics: friction, rolling, adhesion; in statics, in continuum dynamics, in coupled wheel-track interaction system.
  • Wear: simulation and experiment.
  • Rolling contact fatigue (RCF): initiation and development; loading conditions; damage mechanisms and relation with micro-structure of materials; magic wear rate and RCF; profile design for wheels and rails.
  • Vehicle dynamics and train-track interaction: Application of advanced wheel-rail contact models; train-S&C interaction; derailment; modeling of flexible track.
  • Health monitoring and asset management: instrumentation and signal processing; life cycle costs management; key performance indicators.
  • Field and laboratory experiments and tests: design, instrumentation, data acquisition and processing; train-borne and track side; strain gage, accelerometers; laser Doppler vibrometery scan, fixed and on moving frame.
  • Modelling: multi-body dynamics (MB) for vehicle dynamics; train-track interaction; crash worthiness; boundary element method (BEM) and finite element method (FEM) for contact mechanics and crash worthiness. Virtual testing.
  • Translation of scientific research findings into engineering applications.

More info


Chair of the group of Rail Systems & Monitoring, Delft University of Technology


PhD, Computational mechanics, Delft University of Technology
MSc, Mechanical Engineering, Southwest Jiaotong University, China
BSc, Mechanical Engineering, Southwest Jiaotong University, China


Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Courses and programs by this instructor