BCRRE Highspeed rail red train
Our partnerships are far-reaching and diverse. 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. Bringing knowledge and expertise to your business every day, a Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP) is a three way partnership between your organisation, the University and a high-calibre graduate. The project can last from between six months and three years.  

Atkins Rail - A model railway system 

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Birmingham and Atkins is developing a multi-train railway simulator (MTS) to provide the capability for advanced simulation work that addresses future sustainability, carbon and legislative issues.

Atkins is a major consultancy company that provides knowledge, application, innovation and expertise to the rail industry across many rail engineering and non-engineering disciplines. The Company needed to develop its own software simulation tools for use in modelling AC/DC railway infrastructure as the existing commercial modelling tools available do not allow access to the source code, and therefore, provide very little control on the solution methods used.

Working with Professor Clive Roberts, Dr Stuart Hillmansen and Paul Weston from the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, the collaboration aims to provide Atkins with the capability to develop the required skills and competencies to develop a MTS and to keep it continually up-to-date. In particular, the KTP project has looked at innovative ways to address the requirements of current electrical safety standards and the need to ensure that new designs take into account carbon critical design. The engineering tool is also being developed with a unique feature which will simulate anticipated operating timetable in a ‘real time’ manner to assess the performance and behaviour of the operational railway.

The MTS tool being developed with the University of Birmingham will increase Atkins capability and competitiveness in this area and enable us to offer our clients designs to develop and operate the railway infrastructure that minimise carbon emissions.

Roger White, Professional Head of Electrification and Plant for Atkins Rail Division


Cogitare Ltd - A train of thought

Cogitare Ltd  a niche consultancy serving many clients in the rail sector. Their core business is the sale of solutions for the optimisation of rail infrastructure and operations. Indeed, Cogitare’s ‘Systems Optimisation Process’ helped London Underground reduce whole-life system costs by almost £0.5 billion and saved 5 billion 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 Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, led by Professor Clive Roberts and Dr Stuart Hillmansen 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 cutting edge 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. 

In addition, Cogitare will 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.

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.

Larry Fawkner, Optimisation Director for Cogitare Ltd


Academic partners

Loughborough University
Manchester Metropolitan University
University of Nottingham
The University of Southampton
The University of Leeds
Imperial College, London
The University of Sheffield
The University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Industrial partners

Delta Rail
Carillion Rail
Balfour Beatty
Keller Ground Engineering
London Underground
Parsons Brinckerhoff
Network Rail
Scott Wilson Pavement Engineering
Serco Railtest
Smart Fibres
Sol Data
Tube Lines
CDS Rail
WS Atkins


Learn more about Knowledge Transfer Partnershipsand other funding opportunities that may be available for your company.