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A team of railway students from the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), partnered with Aegis Engineering Systems, have won second prize in the annual IMechE Railway Challenge.

The integrated team, which involved undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD students and visiting research students from UNC Charlotte, took second prize with 1041 points, just missing out on the top spot to engineering company SNC-Lavalin with 1087 points. The BCRRE’s innovative hydrogen locomotive won three of the individual elements of the challenge, including the innovation competition and the energy recovery challenge.


The annual Railway Challenge, which brings together competition from other universities as well as industry teams including Bombardier, Alstom and Transport for London, is now in its fifth year.

The students were supported by Dr Stuart Hillmansen and Professor Felix Schmid from the BCRRE. Dr Hillmansen said ‘We are delighted with the result. It was a tough competition this year and it is fantastic to be recognised as the top ranking university team. The students did exceptionally well; the trains are tested against a range of challenges, similar to those experienced in the rail industry, so it is a fantastic opportunity for them to apply their knowledge and test their skills.’


The IMechE Railway Challenge involves two key elements. The trains were firstly put through a track based challenge looking at elements such as energy storage, traction, ride comfort and noise. Then the students were tested on the design, business case and innovation during the presentation challenge.

The hydrogen locomotive is regularly used on campus; at the recent Community Day it carried around 600 members of the public on a short trip in front of the Aston Webb building.