Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, visited the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) on 30 July to learn more about how the centre is helping to improve railway systems around the world and the future of railway research and innovation.
Mr McDonald MP was also joined by Councillor Waseem Zaffar , Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment and Councillor Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader, Birmingham City Council, for the visit to BCRRE and to tour the Labs to view a number of project demonstrations.
While visiting BCRRE the party discussed the use of hydrogen in trains as an alternative fuel source and saw the U.K.’s first fully operating hydrogen train. Mr McDonald MP had the chance to drive the train, named ‘Hydrogen Hero’ which has been completely designed and engineered by BCRRE researchers. It is currently a scaled-down version using technology that is ready to be brought to market with industry partners in the coming months.
Mr McDonald MP, Councillor Jones and Councillor Zaffar also got the opportunity to test out the centre’s train driving simulator, which uses virtual reality to give a realistic interactive experience that allows drivers to learn how to optimise their decisions and driving behaviour. The simulator, also runs complex train scenarios to devise best solutions for maximising network capacity and disruption recovery across the whole system.
Mr McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education is incredibly impressive. They’ve got a whole system approach to the railway and I just think that we’re absolutely blessed to have something of this standard and this ambition.
“It’s their working with industry in these innovative ways that is thoroughly exciting. We’ve really got to capitalise and make sure that there’s that sustained programme of investment, not just in rolling stock, but in infrastructure and in skills.”
Councillor Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The leading edge technology being developed at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education demonstrates the level of skills and expertise that our city has to offer.
“The ground-breaking work taking place at the centre will go on to shape and, ultimately, transform the way we travel by rail.”
Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment said: “The centre is leading the way in terms of innovative railway technology and it is particularly exciting to see the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train being developed here in Birmingham.
“This forward-thinking technology will play a hugely important role in the work being done to improve air quality, not just in Birmingham but across the whole country.”
For more information or interviews, please contact Dominic Benson, Deputy Director of Communications, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 5134 or +44 (0) 7976327067.
Notes for Editors:
- The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
- BCRRE is the largest university-based centre for railway research and education in Europe, with more than 145 researchers and staff developing world-leading new technologies and products for trains, railway systems and infrastructure that will deliver a better, more reliable and efficient railway to the UK. It also currently educates over 500 students a year though our Undergraduate, Masters, PhD and CPD programmes.
- The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) takes a system-wide view, researching in all aspects of railway technology. It has a world-leading reputation in a number of areas including Traffic Management and Operations simulation, Power and Energy Systems, Data Integration and Cybersecurity, Climate Change and Extreme Weather, Condition Monitoring, Sensing, Geotechnical Engineering, Asset Management and Railway Aerodynamics.