The then Secretary of State for Transport, Phil Hammond, visited the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) on 8 June, to better understand the role of research in enhancing the technical and economic performance of Britain’s railways.
Professor Chris Baker, Director of BCRRE, introduced the work of the Centre and highlighted its strengths in railway systems research, whilst Professor Felix Schmid, Professor in Railway Systems Engineering, outlined the railway education provision. Mr Hammond also talked to PHD students Gemma Nicholson about her research into the statistical validation of energy metering for trains, and Ed Stewart about Birmingham’s new unique facility: a test bed for hybrid traction technology.
The Secretary was intrigued to learn that energy flows in dc-supplied railway networks are difficult to measure accurately, and that not everybody wants to know how much energy is being consumed, despite its ever-increasing cost. He showed a great deal of interest in the issues facing railways in terms of their environmental impact, and was pleased to find that the University of Birmingham is doing a great deal of work to reduce weather impact on the third rail network. He was clearly impressed with the work that is being undertaken on BCRRE’s spinning wheel, a research tool allowing condition monitoring at speeds of 80 km/h (over 20 m/s).