The University of Birmingham provides an update on its global and UK railway research and development projects.
The University of Birmingham has been involved in railway research and development projects in Britain and around the world for several decades and is working extensively with industry on the key challenges within the sector.
For the past ten years, these activities have been delivered by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) – the largest university-based railway research and education group in Europe.
With more than 120 staff and researchers, and over 200 enrolled students, it is a unique resource for educating the next generation of railway leaders.
BCRRE is an internationally leading interdisciplinary centre, with world-recognised expertise and facilities that allow it to conduct research into most aspects of railway technology and performance:
- High speed rail and metro systems
- Railway traffic management and
- network optimisation
- Railway condition monitoring
- Railway data management and cybersecurity
- Railway power and traction systems
- Climate effects and resilient infrastructure
BCRRE researchers are, for example, currently investigating data architecture and models for future European train control systems and supporting its strategic partner, Network Rail, with traffic management investment decisions.
Furthermore, BCRRE has been selected by Future Railway as the academic lead for the Command and Control theme of the UK’s Railway Technical Strategy to help deliver the Digital Railway programme.
In addition it is working closely with the UK Department for Transport on improved methods for analysing railway capacity and applying new technologies such as 3-D printing and additive manufacturing processes to the rail sector.
The Centre is also working in collaboration with industry to address the energy concerns of main line and metro railway networks.
This includes investigating alternative power and traction systems and optimising efficient operations in all parts of railways through the use of advanced simulation technology, for both existing systems and proposed new generation systems.
In terms of education, BCRRE offers a wide range of short courses and postgraduate programmes, including taught masters and doctoral studies. The postgraduate programmes are available on both a full-time and distance learning basis.
Recently, the Centre has developed undergraduate programmes in Civil and Railway Engineering and in Electrical and Railway Engineering, and are gaining industry support to provide placements and sponsor students enrolling on these programmes.
HS2 College coming to Birmingham
The University of Birmingham will play a key role in the training of engineers working on the HS2 rail link, following the announcement that the National College for High Speed Rail will have its headquarters in the City.
The College will make use of the internationally leading expertise within BCRRE.
The recent Government announcement followed the news that Birmingham will also be the location of the new headquarters for HS2 construction.
The bid for the College was led by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), with partners including the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council.
Central to the submission was the involvement of BCRRE and its 120-strong multidisciplinary team whose work is at the heart of plans to transform the UK’s railway network over the next 30 years.
As well as having a hand in the training and continuing development of the College’s teachers, BCRRE will advise the college on best practice from similar overseas projects and offer access to a wide range of high-quality facilities.
BCRRE will also contribute to the governance of the College and provide pathways into higher education for the college’s students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Tapping into the rail expertise at the University of Birmingham
BCRRE works very closely with many industrial and academic partners in the UK and overseas. Successful businesses are crucial for economic growth and we believe that by partnering with us we can help to grow and continue the success of your business.
The following case study is an example of this:
Cogitare Ltd is a niche consultancy serving many clients in the rail sector. Its core business is the sale of solutions for the optimisation of rail infrastructure and operations.
Cogitare’s Systems Optimisation Process helped London Underground reduce whole-life system costs by almost £0.5bn and saved 5bn kW hours of energy.
The costs associated with the building of new rail infrastructure are vast and to remain competitive Cogitare wanted to develop better and more economical methods to measure and model “real” rail capacity and to validate and improve capacity simulations and simulators.
The company looked to researchers at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), for help to explore this opportunity.
Cogitare has now embarked on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with the university that will seek to develop a more sophisticated and accurate measurement and modelling solution.
Successful delivery of the partnership will significantly enhance both partners’ reputation as technological leaders in the field.
It will enable Cogitare to gain access to the University of Birmingham’s academic knowledge, capacity and skills in rail capacity simulation and traffic management, and in turn the University researchers will benefit from applying their research into a real life situation.
Cogitare will also be introduced to a number of international partners through working in collaboration with the University in its newly formed Chinese Railway Research Institute, the Anhui-Birmingham International Research Institute in Rail Transportation (ABIRIRT).
This will help the Company to develop an international network to enhance the sales and marketing of its new products.
Larry Fawkner, optimisation director for Cogitare Ltd, said, “By combining the knowledge of our Company with that of the Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of
Birmingham, we believe that we will be able to develop a product that will give us a clear competitive advantage in the UK market. It will also allow us to expand into the Chinese market.”
If you are interested in working with The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, contact our Business Engagement Team. They can help you to navigate your way through the funding opportunities that may be available for your organisation.