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Research partnership to make tracks in future rail technology

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-Hitachi Europe
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By Laura Gallagher
14 November 2005

Advancing new areas of railway technology and developing people with high level technical capabilities are the two major aims of a new partnership between Hitachi Europe Ltd and Imperial College London launched this month.

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Deputy Rector, and Sir Stephen Gomersall, Chief Executive for Europe of Hitachi Ltd, at the launch of the Hitachi-Imperial partnership

Hitachi is funding research in Imperial's Future Rail Research Centre that will look at issues such as train performance, how to optimize trains' consumption of energy, and the best sources of train power. A launch event was held on 16 November 2005.

PhD and undergraduate research opportunities for Imperial students will be created by the partnership, which will see Hitachi's leading railway research and development engineers in Japan collaborating with Imperial researchers.

The Future Rail Research Centre, based in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will initially analyse mainland European railway standards and strategies. Technical research will look at issues such as how use can be made of mixed propulsion configurations, such as powering trains using diesel together with batteries and other sources of stored energy.

The Centre will also explore the environmental impact of rail vehicles; make quantitative measurements of ride comfort and noise and other aspects of the passenger experience; and analyse the causes of fatigue and fracture in wheels, rails, axles and other critical railway components. It will also explore life-cycle-costing methodologies whereby greater initial spending reduces maintenance costs in the long term.

Roderick Smith Opens in new window, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial, said: "This new partnership offers a fantastic opportunity for Imperial College's Future Rail Research Centre to draw on Hitachi's experience and technical capabilities from the Japanese market.

"The collaboration will provide invaluable opportunities for our undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers. We look forward to building a long and successful partnership with Hitachi," he added.

Alistair Dormer, General Manager, Rail Group of Hitachi Europe Ltd, said: "Hitachi is delighted to be investing in the ground breaking research undertaken by the Future Rail Research Centre Group at Imperial College. We believe the partnership will provide a springboard for the future leaders and engineers of the UK Railway Industry .

"Bringing our top researchers together with the Future Rail Research Centre Group at Imperial, we will be transferring knowledge and experience that has been gained developing the technology that underpins the best railway system in the world. Hitachi's investment will deliver significant future benefits to the UK railway industry and enables Hitachi to help provide fantastic career opportunities for young successful engineers."