Birmingham and Beijing universities are on the right track

The University of Birmingham (UK) and Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU) (China) have today (17 September) signed a research cooperation agreement that announces plans for a joint international high-speed railway research laboratory.

The new research lab will be run jointly by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham – which offers the largest academic research and education capability for railways in the UK – and the State Key Lab of Rail Traffic Control and Safety at BJTU.

The joint lab is expected to be developed as part of a wider UK-China high-speed railway research platform which will eventually bring together experienced railway researchers from other institutions from both nations with railway expertise. The aim is for the platform to deliver, in partnership, leading railway research for the global industry.

The University of Birmingham has a proud history of research and collaboration with BJTU, especially in the area of railways. There have already been several academic exchanges between the two universities, which have come as a result of joint research projects funded by both the governments and industry of the UK and China. The Sino-UK Higher Education Research Partnership for PhD studies project supports the exchange of six researchers and six students between both the University of Birmingham and BJTU who work on advanced technologies to improve capacity and reduce consumption for metro systems.

Clive Roberts, Professor of Railway Systems and Director of the BCRRE at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘I am delighted we are signing this collaboration agreement today on behalf of the University of Birmingham. We have already shown that our collaborations can bring about technological change in both the UK and China, and I am looking forward to growing our existing relationship to cover other areas.’

Since 2009 Professor Clive Roberts and Dr Lei Chen from the BCRRE have jointly published more than ten top-ranking academic papers in the area of railway research with colleagues at BJTU. Furthermore, the two universities have signed undergraduate and postgraduate education agreements and there are a number of students from BJTU studying and researching at Birmingham as a result.

Hairong Dong, Professor in Railway System Control and Deputy Director of the International Office at BJTU said: ‘The UK has a long history of research into railway technologies. China has achieved rapid development over the last decade in the areas of high-speed rail and developed leading railway technology. The set-up of the joint high-speed railway research centre will help to enhance the global leadership of the two countries in the area of high speed rail.’

Dr Lei Chen, Lecturer in Railway Traffic Management and Train Control at the University of Birmingham, added: ‘The agreement will initiate the setup of a joint international research platform across Europe and China to bring global expertise on high-speed railway technology and to deliver cutting-edge railway research, benefiting the development of high-speed railway programmes in the UK, China and other countries.’

Professor Jon Frampton, a University of Birmingham Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor and head of the University’s China Institute, signed the Memorandum of Understanding today (Thursday 17 September) at the UK-China Education Summit in Greenwich, London.

Earlier this year, the University of Birmingham also signed a co-operation agreement on railway research and education with the Chinese rolling stock manufacturer, CSR Sifang.

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  • The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) brings together a multidisciplinary team from across the University to tackle fundamental railway engineering problems. The team actively engages with industry, other universities – through the Rail Research UK Association – and international partners.
  • The University’s aims with China include developing joint research, promoting education and engagement. To this end the University has established a centre in Guangzhou to host its activities in China, and the China Institute at the University of Birmingham to gather together their wide-ranging research activities with Chinese partners and concerning China more generally.
  • 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 and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • Established in 1896, Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU) is one of the oldest universities in mainland China and among the first authorised to confer master’s and doctoral degrees. The University has been closely connected with the nation’s railway industry and its growth since its establishment, including most recently being involved in the building of high-speed railways and modern urban rail transit systems throughout China.