Michigan Technological University has been selected as one of seven members of a research university consortium that has been awarded a $3.5m grant from the US Department of Transportation (USDoT) for a rail transportation and engineering research centre.

The $3.5m grant is part of a $77m USDoT initiative to advance research and education programmes that address critical transportation challenges faced by the country.

Michigan Tech’s principal investigator on the NURail project Pasi Lautala said the US Department of Transportation’s decision to focus one of ten national centres on rail transportation is a strong testimony to the importance of rail transportation in the US.

"This is a great opportunity for the rail transportation programme and for Michigan Tech to strengthen our capabilities and expertise in several areas related to rail. With continuing support from our industry partners, we have now an unprecedented opportunity to take the next major step in making Michigan Tech one of the leading universities in the field," added Lautala.

The University of lllinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will lead the consortium, which will focus on education and research to improve railway safety, efficiency and reliability.

The other members in the National University Rail Centre (NURail) include MIT, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

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By GlobalData

NURail is one of ten University Transportation Centres nationwide to receive federal funding and will be the first such centre focused solely on rail, consortium officials said.

Headquartered within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois, the NURail centre will focus on rural freight rail and multimodal transportation improvements, human factors and rail safety.

Infrastructure evaluation and assessment, high performance materials for railroad infrastructure preservation and renewal and improved materials for the rail industry will be other key research areas.

In addition, the centre will work on developing rail transportation and engineering related education.