Rail research building opens at University of Birmingham

08 July 2021
Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State for Transport, opens a new purpose-built centre, designed to deliver specialist research in railway engineering.

A new rail research building has been opened at the Univerity of Birmingham. The Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems was delivered via a partnership between the University and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) with investment from Research England.

Facilities include cab simulators, and a signalling control centre, as well as project labs, and other technologies that are said to enable high quality, fast-paced research, through proof-of-concept to demonstration and testing. Opening the building, Mr Stephenson said, “This new Centre will have a pivotal role in ensuring our country’s proud rail engineering past continues into a bright future. It is vital that UK is front and centre of transport innovation as we Build Back Better from the pandemic, and along with the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, the Centre will provide valuable training, new skills and real opportunities for people entering the sector for the first time. We will continue to work closely with the Centre as it strives to attract a diverse range of talent to the transport sector.”

Mr Stephenson’s portfolio includes responsibility for skills in the transport sector and also HS2. As part of his trip to Birmingham, he also visited the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI). In May, NCATI became part of the University of Birmingham group, heralding a special collaboration between higher and further education.

NCATI will draw on the University’s internationally-recognised rail expertise and – together with strong industry and a wide range of partners – hopes to help address the sector’s skills gaps, producing a new generation to lead Britain’s future rail, transport and infrastructure workforce.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said, “I am delighted to welcome the Minister to our campus to experience our rail research and see how we work closely with the rail industry. We have an international reputation for our research and development strengths in this sector and, in partnership with UKRRIN, we are set to make significant progress in applying digital technologies to the UK’s railways. Through our collaboration with the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastucture we will be using our expertise in railway education to deliver high-level technical skills into the industry.”

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Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, said, “The Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems is set to deliver a step-change in the use of digital technology across the entire rail sector. It is rapidly becoming the ‘go to’ centre for collaboration with our industrial partners to design, test and integrate these technologies and bring them to market. With the opening of these new facilities, we’re looking forward to further developing and delivering our world-class expertise alongside our sector partners.”

For further information on the Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems, visit the University of Birmingham website.


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