Transport minister opens rail research building at the University of Birmingham

Andrew Stephenson MP (centre) opening the new Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems at the University of Birmingham.

Minister of State for Transport Andrew Stephenson MP has formally opened the Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems at the University of Birmingham, which has been designed to deliver specialist research in railway engineering.

The new purpose-built centre, which was delivered via a partnership between the University and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) with investment from Research England. Facilities, include cab simulators, and a signalling control centre as well as project labs and other technologies that will enable high quality, fast-paced research, through proof-of-concept to demonstration and testing.

Andrew Stephenson MP.

Opening the building, the minister said: “This new centre will have a pivotal role in ensuring our country’s proud rail engineering past continues into a bright future.

“It is vital that UK is front and centre of transport innovation as we Build Back Better from the pandemic, and, along with the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, the Centre will provide valuable training, new skills and real opportunities for people entering the sector for the first time.

“We will continue to work closely with the Centre as it strives to attract a diverse range of talent to the transport sector.”

With a rail portfolio that includes responsibility for skills in the transport sector and HS2, the minister also visited the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI) during his trip to Birmingham.

NCATI became part of the University of Birmingham group in May. It will draw on the university’s internationally recognised rail expertise and, together with strong industry and a wide range of partners, will help address the sector’s skills gaps, producing a new generation to lead Britain’s future rail, transport and infrastructure workforce.

Prof Sir David Eastwood,
University of Birmingham.

University of Birmingham vice-chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “I am delighted to welcome the minister to our campus to experience our rail research and see how we work closely with the rail industry.  We have an international reputation for our research and development strengths in this sector and, in partnership with UKRRIN, we are set to make significant progress in applying digital technologies to the UK’s railways.

“Through our collaboration with the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, we will be using our expertise in railway education to deliver high-level technical skills into the industry.”

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