The University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) will work with East Japan Railway Company (JR East) on innovative rail technology and staffing solutions in a new partnership. 

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two organisations sets up a partnership that will include JR East’s collaboration with the Rail Innovation Cluster of UK and Europe rail start-ups at the BCRRE and the opening of an innovation hub at the company’s major Takanawa Gateway City development, set to be completed later this year in Tokyo, Japan. 

Shunzo Miyake, senior executive officer and director general of international affairs headquarters for JR East, said: “We are honoured to take this first step in collaborating with the University of Birmingham, which has a British heritage as the birthplace of railways and the prestigious railway research institution BCRRE. 

“We hope this partnership would develop railway technology and generate innovation that will change the future of the rail industry and beyond,” he added. 

The proposed partnership will include an education programme for railway personnel and joint projects to research railway-related issues such as digital transformation and decarbonisation. 

The BCRRE is Europe’s largest academic group covering “world-class” research, education and innovation for the global rail industry and works with companies from across the sector to foster new technologies. 

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Paul Plummer, director of the BCRRE, said: “It is great to build on strong international relationships through agreements that will improve our railways and the railway workforce. We are therefore delighted to be collaborating with JE East to develop and demonstrate technological advances. 

“Education and upskilling are important to us, and we look forward to working with JR East to enable sustainable economic growth and wellbeing.” 

JR East’s involvement in the Rail Innovation Cluster continues the company’s recent work to connect with more start-ups after founding its JRE Ventures corporate venture capital in Singapore to promote investment in Southeast Asian start-ups. 

In addition to beginning its partnership with JR East, the BCRRE also recently published a paper proving the effectiveness of its new rail signalling design after testing the system with a digital twin.