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Train in a workshop

The project will design solutions to the challenges of maintaining safety while carrying out ‘digital maintenance’. Researchers will investigate how access to maintenance systems can be digitally controlled, ensuring they are carried out by authorised personnel and at the right points in time. That will include, for example, making sure software updates are only carried out when the train is stationary and uncoupled. This reduces the risk of updates having unanticipated effects on other vehicles or systems.

Dr Richard Thomas, an expert in railway cyber security at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, explains: “The technologies we are designing will give train operators vital controls over maintenance activities, improving safety and making sure of compliance with cyber security legislation.

“In addition, ensuring maintenance is only carried out on isolated systems, reduces the likelihood of a cyber-attack. Implementing these technologies will have the added benefit of reducing the time needed for maintenance to be carried out.”

Dr Emma Taylor, Head of Digital Safety at RazorSecure, says: “RazorSecure's experience, supporting operators such as Northern Trains, has given us a unique perspective on the importance of Digital Maintenance in ensuring safe and secure operations. With support across the passenger and freight sectors, including from Rail Freight Group and DB Cargo, we are pleased to be able to drive forward industry-wide capabilities and deployments.”

The technologies we are designing will give train operators vital controls over maintenance activities, improving safety and making sure of compliance with cyber security legislation.

Dr Richard Thomas, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education

The programme was awarded a Transport Research and Innovation Grant funded by the Department for Transport in partnership with Connected Places Catapult.

The grants are designed to support innovative ideas or concepts that facilitate a better transport system by bridging the early stage, proof of concept funding gap. At this stage of the innovation pipeline, investments can help de-risk the development of novel technology, supporting the most promising and beneficial products as they launch within their intended markets.

They also help to build links between innovators and officials in a safe way, benefiting both and uncovering new leaders as well as beneficial innovation.

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  • 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 Europe’s largest academic-based group delivering railway science and education. With over 180 academics, researchers, and professional support staff, BCRRE provides world-class research and thought leadership within railways, and offers an expanding portfolio of high-quality education programmes, including Rail and Rail Systems Level 6- and 7-degree apprenticeships. In 2018 BCRRE became the lead partner in the £92m UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN)
  • RazorSecure was founded in 2015 by CEO Alex Cowan, with headquarters in Basingstoke, RazorSecure provides leading companies across the rail industry with tailored cyber security solutions. As specialists in rail, RazorSecure technology is powered by machine learning and designed to protect rolling stock, signalling and infrastructure systems. RazorSecure solutions have been deployed in over 1600 rail vehicles and protected over 50 million rail passenger journeys.