We held the second in our joint lecture series with the Railway Engineers Forum (REF) this week, with an event hosted by BCRRE and the UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems (CEDS).
The CEDS aims to meet the current and future demands of the GB rail industry for research and innovation in new areas, supporting transformational change in rail technology across the globe. The Centre links with others in the UKRRIN network to deliver a step change in rail systems capability, with particular focus on:
- Future Railway Operations and Control
- Smart Monitoring and Autonomous Systems
- Data Integration and Cyber Security
- Introducing Innovation
Delegates were taken on a whistle-stop tour of digital systems and had an opportunity to take a closer look at the CEDS facilities, key themes and objectives and network with those leading each area, as well as the researchers working across the broad range of BCRRE projects.
As Clive Roberts, (Director for BCRRE and Lead for UKRRIN CEDS) stated “UKRRIN is growing, and has grown” and now that the network has been active for over a year, we are starting to really shine a spotlight on research, and work to broaden and deepen those relationships that will help us to design future technologies that will transform the rail industry – in this case, “digitising the railway”.
Case studies highlighting examples of research that has made it to market such as the cyclic top measurement device developed by University of Birmingham in collaboration with Abtus really demonstrated the potential to do so. This is an inspection trolley which can identify degradation sites around the rail, suggesting repair profiles. The tool has Network Rail approval with over 80 devices having been developed and sold to the infrastructure manager. By working in partnership with the University, this small SME through the success of the project, has also managed to radicalise and change the things that they do, demonstrating the mutual benefits that can arise from such partnerships.
Roger Dixon, Professor of Control Systems Engineering, BCRRE in his presentation around the CEDS Introducing Innovation theme, highlighted the crucial role of fundamental research – where thinking is really applied to ensure we understand problems, before looking to innovate. A notion later echoed by Network Rail Group Digital Railway Interim Managing Director, Stuart Calvert who began his keynote by suggesting we step back to consider a key question: “What is a digital railway”?
Network Rail have outlined 5 clear priorities putting passengers first and placing a focus on “Delivering service excellence every day to shape a better future”, and consideration is being given to the role that digital technology has to play in this.
With the UK exporting just 7% of railway technology, compared with the rest of Europe which exports double the amount, it is clear to see that we do have work to do and UKRRIN is keen to develop strategic relationships with businesses of all levels to change this.
Presentations are available through Spark, click here to learn more.