2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Shinkansen high speed line in Japan. The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), and the University of Birmingham celebrated this historic occasion by holding an International Conference on High Speed Rail from Monday 8 – Wednesday 10 December 2014.

Over 250 delegates, travelling from England, France, Germany and Japan, attended the conference, to celebrate the last 50 years of high-speed rail, and look ahead to the next 50 years; with contributions from industry leaders and academics to tackle the challenges and solutions of high speed rail. 

The first high speed rail system opened in Japan in 1964, featuring super-fast so-called ‘bullet trains’ that revolutionised post-war intercity and international rail travel. At present 13 countries operate modern high-speed rail lines including China, France, Britain and Germany. A further 26 are either building high-speed rail or adding to existing facilities. Birmingham is set to be one of the hubs of the HS2 network and the University is home to the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) which is Europe’s largest railway research group.


Academic and Industry leaders assembled to discuss the major visions, challenges and solutions for the future of high speed rail. Sessions included debates on the aesthetics and usability of high speed railway stations, railway safety and how to predict aerodynamic noise from high-speed. 


On Tuesday 9 December, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Birmingham, Sir David Eastwood, Professor Jon Binner, University of Birmingham, and Noriyoshi Yamagami, Embassy of Japan, welcomed all guests and introduced sessions into the challenges and solutions for high speed rail engineering. 

 Key Speakers included: 

• Uwe Krueger, CEO Atkins
• Alistair Dormer, CEO Hitachi Rail Europe
• Duncan Sutherland, non-executive Director HS2 ltd
• Pierre Messulam, SNCF
• Colin Stewart, Global Rail Business Leader ARUP
• Yoshinori Hatta, JR Central
• Hironori Tsujimura, JR East
• Alain Sauvant, RFF
• Professor Clive Roberts, Director of BCRRE

 David Prosser, Head of Training Development, Hyde Group Engineering Ltd said: 

Hyde Engineering was impressed by the fact that the event itself indicated openness for collaboration and, as a problem solving design house with significant conceptual design experience coupled with manufacturing and tool capabilities, we would be very interested in engaging with the industry.

Professor Felix Schmid, Director of Education, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education said: 

I am delighted that the feedback on High Speed Rail 1964-2064: Celebrating Ambition has been excellent. What pleased me most was the level of attendance at the research directions workshop on Wednesday afternoon: Out of the 160 attendees of the third day of the conference, 80 stayed on to work on research plans with our esteemed expert panel from France and Britain.