Global Rail Leaders Focus on 'Reshaping our Railways Post-Pandemic'

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Leaders in rail innovation from across the globe came together in Birmingham to discuss future plans to develop, improve, and shape the industry post-pandemic.

The World Congress on Railway Research, jointly hosted by RSSB and the University of Birmingham, welcomed delegates from across the global research community. Together they were championing technical development, advocating collaboration, and inspiring the next generation of rail professionals to work together on the common challenges faced by railways.

The World Congress consisted of 3 plenary sessions, 3 professional growth sessions, and10 Masterclasses, presented over 60 sessions. These were accompanied by over 330 papers across a plethora of rail related topics. The Congress was sponsored by over 30 organisations and supporters included Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking, HS2, Network Rail, DB, and many more.

Minister of State for Transport, Wendy Morton MP, and Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, delivered opening remarks on the first day of the Congress. Ms Morton also toured the University’s new railway research facilities based in its new UKRRIN (UK Rail Research and Innovation Network) building. The facilities were established to support powerful research and industrial partnerships in digital railway engineering.

Wendy Morton MP, Minister of State for Transport said:

‘It was wonderful to see the broad range of activities bringing together industry, academia, and government to discuss and share ideas with the common goal of developing, decarbonising, and driving forward the railway industry.'

‘Rail research and development is accelerating rapidly. The University’s partnership with UKRINN, embodied in these superb facilities, is exactly what’s needed to support exciting and fruitful new partnerships between academia, industry, and government.’

Luisa Moisio, RSSB’s Director of Research and Development said:

‘The 13th WCRR was a resounding success and I’m incredibly proud to see everybody’s hard work pay off. It was a fantastic week, with a varied mix of exhibitions, presentations, plenary discussions and technical visits on new railway research, development, and technical innovation.'

‘Hundreds of delegates joined us from around the world, bringing together their different perspectives and experiences and informing in-depth discussions on the challenges facing the railways in a post covid world.'

‘Through our research and development, building on the success of WCRR, RSSB is committed to helping the industry in Great Britain to make vital improvements that will increase the reliability, efficiency and sustainability of the railway, delivering more value to its passengers and freight customers while maintaining its good safety performance.’

Clive Roberts, Head of School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham said:

‘With over 300 speakers, over 340 number unique sessions delivered and over 600 paper submissions, tailored panel sessions and opportunities to network, it was wonderful to see those with an invested interest in rail and those working within rail under one roof.'

‘The conversations and discussions that took place across the week all led to the common goal of improving our railway system, making rail greener, the chosen and most attractive mode of public transport, improving passenger experience and enhancing rail freight tying in nicely with the congress theme of Reshaping our railways post-pandemic: Research with an impact.’

Carlo Borghini, Executive Director, Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking said:

‘It has been a great pleasure to support the WCRR 2022 here in Birmingham and share our vision. WCRR is the opportunity to really show to the global rail research community what we have achieved in Europe in the past five years under the Shift2Rail programme, but also to learn from one another and offer the possibility to work together in the future under Europe’s Rail, its five major priorities and the future flagship projects.'

‘Being here, in presence of many railway and transport professionals from around the globe really underpins the importance of working together, learning from each other, share knowledge. Maximising performance, sustaining our resources, and investing in our next generations of engineers will make our railway the most attractive mode of transport for both passengers and freight, contributing to the competitiveness of the European rail industry.’

At WCRR’s closing ceremony, it was announced that the next World Congress, scheduled for 2025, will be hosted by MxV Rail in the United States.

Kari Gonzales, CEO and President at MxV Rail said:

‘MxV Rail is honoured to host the 2025 WCRR conference in colourful Colorado, USA. We look forward to welcoming delegates to the next WCRR event focused on advancing our industry toward a safer and more resilient global rail network.’

Notes to editor:

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  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • RSSB provides the insight for a better, safer railway. As a membership-based rail industry body, RSSB includes train and freight operators, infrastructure managers, contractors, rolling stock leasing companies and suppliers. It works with organisations in industry, academia, in Britain and overseas.
  • RSSB’s experts provide an independent and objective analysis, unlocking opportunities with solid data, research and standards. The outcome is a better-performing railway which is healthier, harmonised, safer and sustainable. Beyond the core membership programme, RSSB also offers its own training, consultancy, risk and assurance services to anyone with a stake in rail, or an interest in applying its work to their own organisation’s needs.