News Reporter Cassandra Green looks at the new research project set to improve passenger experience

Written by Cassandragreen
Images by Brian Clift

This project aims to use navigation technology to take on a big issue in rail, by pinpointing the accuracy of a moving train, helping to tackle train delays and to improve passenger safety. 

Specialists from the University of Birmingham-led UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing and the University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), are working together to create a system for quantum-enabled navigation. Engineers will ensure the high-quality condition of the railway track and passenger comfort on trains, through the creation of a system which will find accurate measurements without using the Global Navigation Satellite systems. 

the system we are developing will … explain what is happening under the track as well as the train’s movement

Professor Clive Roberts is the Director of BCRRE at UOB and Co-Investigator at the Quantum Technology Hub. Roberts said: ‘The system we are developing will’ allow ‘engineers to explain what is happening under the track as well as the train’s movement’ and we will be able to ‘provide highly accurate measurements’ which will detect any ‘change of the track’ and ‘deteriorations which may lead to faults.’

Professor Costas Constantinou is the Chair of Communication Electrodynamics and Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Constantinou expressed the importance of not relying on GPS which can be unreliable and impressed the importance of the standalone navigation system they are developing which will not be exposed to the same external risks. Field tests will take place for this investiture at a test track in Long Marston, Warwickshire early next year. 

Industry collaboration is so central to the application of science in the real world (the Quantum Technology Hub’s main goal). The hub academics are working with Network Rail and other international railway organisations to improve rail navigation. Similarly, the UK Quantum Hub Sensors and Timing is partnering with several universities across the country to improve cross- vehicle navigation systems to help the UK’s most critical national infrastructure, including transport, civil engineering and communications. 


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