Project launched to improve exact train position
New project development has been launched at the University of Birmingham to improve railway navigation technology to reduce train delays, increase passenger experience and identify the accurate location of a moving train. The project will be run by two departments from the University, UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing and Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE).
They will collaborate to develop a system for quantum-enabled navigation, which will help engineers ensure the health of the railway track and increase passenger safety. The main aim of this project is to help tackle one of the biggest challenges the rail sector is facing, which is identifying the accurate location of a moving train.
The navigation will be a standalone system which will capture measurements without relying on Global Navigation Satellite Systems ( GNSS). “The system we are developing will have gravity map-matching capabilities, allowing engineers to understand what is happening underneath the track, as well as the train’s movement,” explains Professor Clive Roberts, Director of the BCRRE. “The quantum sensors will provide highly accurate measurements that will help to detect the rate of change of the track and, subsequently, any deteriorations which might lead to faults.”
“Our dependence on GPS can leave navigation systems vulnerable to spoofing or, more frequently, loss of positioning due to weak network signals”, adds Professor Costas Constantinou. He is the Chairman of Communication Electrodynamics and Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.
Next year, field tests will be conducted where sensors will be installed on a purpose-built stabilisation platform in a train. Quantum Technology Hub will be working with Network Rail and other international railway organizations to improve and bring accuracy to navigation in the rail sector.