Rail research centre opens at University of Birmingham

Ranked amongst the world's top 100 institutions, the University of Birmingham is proudly unveiling its new state of the art, purpose-built centre, designed to deliver specialist research in railway engineering.

The Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems was provided as a result of a partnership between the University and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), supported by investment from Research England.

Some of the new facilities include cab simulators, a signalling control centre and project labs, alongside other state of the art technologies to allow high quality, fast-paced research through proof-of-concept, to demonstration and testing.

Minister of State for Transport, Andrew Stephenson, who officially opened the centre, 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 (a government economic recovery plan that sets out to support growth through investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation) 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.”

In May, the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI), became a part of the University of Birmingham group. NCATI is a new institution that has replaced the Further Education Corporation of The National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, which dissolved in 2021.

The institution will utilise the University’s internationally-recognised rail expertise, alongside that of its partners, to help address the sector’s skill gaps and guide the new generation of Britain’s leading 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 Infrastructure we will be using our expertise in railway education to deliver high-level technical skills into the industry.”

Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, added: “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.”

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