The University of Birmingham in the UK has unveiled the new Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems to conduct specialist research in railway engineering.

The new purpose-built facility was officially opened by the Minister of State for Transport Andrew Stephenson.

With investment from Research England, the centre has been established by the university in partnership with the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).

It features a cab simulators, signalling control centre, project labs, and other technologies.

These will help in carrying out fast-paced research through proof-of-concept for trials and demonstrations.

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

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“It is vital that the 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.”

Currently, Stephenson is overseeing works on HS2 and is responsible for skills in the transport sector.

Furthermore, in May this year, the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI) became part of the University of Birmingham group.

Through this collaboration, NCATI will make use of the university’s rail expertise.

By joining forces with a wide range of partners, it will also address the sector’s skills gaps.

University of Birmingham School of Engineering head Professor Clive Roberts said: “The Centre of Excellence for Digital Systems is set to deliver a step-change in the use of digital technology across the entire rail sector.

“It is rapidly becoming the ‘go to’ centre for collaboration with our industrial partners to design, test and integrate these technologies and bring them to market. With the opening of these new facilities, we’re looking forward to further developing and delivering our world-class expertise alongside our sector partners.”