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A train driver being trained on a digital rail simulator at the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE)

The Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE) has welcomed the publication of the UK Government’s Rail Sector Deal, which sets out how the Government will support innovation and enterprise in the UK railways, including the use of data.

The deal includes a commitment to develop a new Rail Industry Data Platform in the Midlands. The platform, which will be developed and tested in the Midlands, will harness the power of big data to increase rail capacity and improve customer experience.

The new platform will be developed through close collaboration with the rail industry, brought together through the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). As the lead university partner within UKRRIN, BCRRE will play a leading role in the development of the new platform.

Alex Burrows, Director, Birmingham Centre for BCRRE, said: “We at the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE) are delighted to be a part of the rail sector deal. We look forward to collaborating with many partners to deliver this valuable initiative that will bring significant benefits to both the rail industry and its customers.

“As the academic lead for UK Railway Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), an initiative that unites industry and academia to progress innovation and share best practice, we recognise the necessity of taking world-leading research and applying it to the global market place.  The deal emphasises the importance of research, development and innovation within the rail sector. As the largest specialist rail research and education centre in Europe, we will continue to use our expertise to support our railways, bringing new technologies to improve the efficient use of our rail network capacity and enhance the experience of passengers who use our railways.”

The Rail Sector Deal forms part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy. First published in 2017, the Industrial Strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

With over 145 academics, researchers and professional support staff, BCRRE is the largest specialist rail research and education centre in Europe. The centre delivers world class research and thought leadership within railways, and offer an expanding portfolio of high-quality education programmes.

In February 2018, the UK rail sector launched a ground-breaking partnership between industry and universities to deliver £92m Centres of Excellence. The Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems is led by BCRRE and is focused on bringing the benefits of digital technology to railway control and operations simulation; data integrity and cyber security; monitoring the condition of rail systems; and speeding up the process of introducing new technologies to the railways.