The agreement, will see the two companies share knowledge and expertise on a range of topics. This includes the use of digital technology to improve the efficiency and reliability of rail operations, the management of rail assets, and the development of new safety standards.
It is part of Network Rail’s newly formed International Research & Development partnership programme (IRDPP) and aims to deliver and develop technology. It will initially look at AI technology for use in inspections of steel bridges and track, specifically switch and crosses, and light-rail remote condition monitoring.
Robert Ampomah, Network Rail’s chief technology officer said: “This partnership marks a major step for us as an organisation, partnering with the international rail community, to share experiences in operating a railway. Looking at what works and what doesn't, will, help us shape and develop innovative technology that will go towards modernising the railway.
“There has always been a history of information sharing with rail colleagues nationally and internationally but signing the MoU today with SBB solidifies our commitment to work more closely together.”
Roland Mosner, SBB’s head of technology, said: “It has been fundamental to us as an organisation to continue to look forward in terms of sharing best practices and advances in applied research and development.
“By jointly improving our operational excellence we strive for the best returns for our passengers and customers. The signing of the MoU with Network Rail (NR) is one giant step in keeping the momentum moving in the right direction. We welcome the opportunity to collaboratively work with Network Rail and to share the positive outcomes this will bring.”
The agreement between Network Rail and SBB is part of a wider trend of collaboration between rail operators around the world. As the rail industry faces increasing challenges, such as the need to reduce emissions and improve safety, companies are working closer together to mitigate those challenges including Austrian Federal Railways, Deutsche Bahn and SNCF who signed an cooperative agreement in 2021.
Projects developed as part of IRDPP will be jointly funded with the responsibility for resources, testing capabilities, and best practices shared between both parties - initially in the form of workshops both in person and online.
Photo Credit: Network Rail and Istock
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