Industrial collaborations

Successful collaboration is crucial for the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education. We collaborate with many companies, trade associations and academic institutions in the UK and internationally. 

Industrial Collaboration and engagement

We are one of Network Rail’s four Strategic University Partners. The partnership has a special focus on the Integration and management of Railway data, but we also conduct research for Network Rail in many other areas that are important to their business.  We also collaborate in our Educational programmes.  Network Rail staff deliver guest lectures on some of our programmes and students are placed within Network Rail to gain industrial experience.

We are FutureRailway's [part of RSSB] lead academic partner for the delivery of the  innovation identified in the Command, Control and Communication theme of the Railway Technical Strategy.

Under the partnership agreement, ERTMS Solutions have granted us academic licenses to use the ODASE platform with the aim of increasing the impact of our research in the global railway industry.

ODASE is the only all-in-one Ontology-centric development platform currently rolled out in the industry, which consists of a design-time interactive development environment, a compile-time generator, and a run-time environment to build and execute applications.

We work with a great many other companies on research, product development and consultancy  projects as well as working with them to develop their skills and talent pipelines by placing students with them to gain industrial experience or by educating their staff through our degree programmes. 

We welcome collaboration with new partners within industry. Please use our contact form below to explore potential collaboration opportunities.

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Collaboration with Railway Industry Associations

BCRRE is a member of a number of key Railway Industry Bodies and Associations to promote innovation and skills development within the Railway Industry.  We work closely with the following associations:

Railway Research UK Association (RRUK-A) 

Dr Stuart Hillmansen of BCRRE is the current Academic chair of RRUK-A

Young Rail Professionals (YRP)  

We are a corporate sponsor of YRP and one of our PhD Students, Heather Douglas, is the Marketing Manager for the West Midlands Region of the YRP.

Railway Industry Association (RIA)

We have made presentations and run workshops at RIA’s annual innovation conference.

Rail Alliance 

Rail Alliance have been a delivery partner to us for the ERDF Funded Hi-Tech Rail Project which seek to develop the West Midlands SME supply chain to deliver innovative products and services to the Railway Industry in the UK and Internationally.

Collaboration with Academia

In addition to academic collaboration through RRUK-A, BCRRE works collaboratively with a large number of Academic Institutions either on Research Projects and/or within Educational Partnerships.  The academic partners we collaborate with include:

University of Nottingham (PCIPP and delivery of the Electrical Transportation Systems and Infrastructure MSc)

University of Southampton (Track 21 and Track 2 the Future)

University of Huddersfield (Track 21 and Track 2 the Future)

University of York (Delivery of the Railway Risk and Safety Management MSc)

University College London (DEDOTS)

Case Studies

Atkins Rail - A model railway system 

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Birmingham and Atkins is developing a multi-train railway simulator (MTS) to provide the capability for advanced simulation work that addresses future sustainability, carbon and legislative issues.

Atkins is a major consultancy company that provides knowledge, application, innovation and expertise to the rail industry across many rail engineering and non-engineering disciplines. The Company needed to develop its own software simulation tools for use in modelling AC/DC railway infrastructure as the existing commercial modelling tools available do not allow access to the source code, and therefore, provide very little control on the solution methods used.

Working with Professor Clive Roberts, Dr Stuart Hillmansen and Paul Weston from the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, the collaboration aims to provide Atkins with the capability to develop the required skills and competencies to develop a MTS and to keep it continually up-to-date. In particular, the KTP project has looked at innovative ways to address the requirements of current electrical safety standards and the need to ensure that new designs take into account carbon critical design. The engineering tool is also being developed with a unique feature which will simulate anticipated operating timetable in a ‘real time’ manner to assess the performance and behaviour of the operational railway.

The MTS tool being developed with the University of Birmingham will increase Atkins capability and competitiveness in this area and enable us to offer our clients designs to develop and operate the railway infrastructure that minimise carbon emissions.

Roger White, Professional Head of Electrification and Plant for Atkins Rail Division

Cogitare Ltd - A train of thought

Cogitare Ltd  a niche consultancy serving many clients in the rail sector. Their core business is the sale of solutions for the optimisation of rail infrastructure and operations. Indeed, Cogitare’s ‘Systems Optimisation Process’ helped London Underground reduce whole-life system costs by almost £0.5 billion and saved 5 billion kW hours of energy.

The costs associated with the building of new rail infrastructure are vast and to remain competitive Cogitare wanted to develop better and more economical methods to measure and model ‘real’ rail capacity and to validate and improve capacity simulations and simulators. The Company looked to researchers at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, led by Professor Clive Roberts and Dr Stuart Hillmansen for help to explore this opportunity. Cogitare has now embarked on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with the University that will seek to develop a more sophisticated and accurate measurement and modelling solution. 

Successful delivery of the partnership will significantly enhance both partners reputation as technological leaders in the field. It will enable Cogitare to gain access to the University of Birmingham’s cutting edge knowledge, capacity and skills in rail capacity simulation and traffic management and in turn the University researchers will benefit from applying their research into a real life situation. 

In addition, Cogitare will be introduced to a number of international partners through working in collaboration with the University in its newly formed Chinese Railway Research Institute, the Anhui-Birmingham International Research Institute in Rail Transportation (ABIRIRT). This will help the Company to develop an international network to enhance the sales and marketing of its new products.

By combining the knowledge of our Company with that of the Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of Birmingham, we believe that we will be able to develop a product that will give us a clear competitive advantage in the UK market. It will also allow us to expand into the Chinese Market.

Larry Fawkner, Optimisation Director for Cogitare Ltd

Learn more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and other funding opportunities that may be available for your company.

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