University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Photo Justin Shen, Unsplash)

USA: Funding has been approved to enable a consortium of nine universities to establish a National University Rail Center of Excellence, which will develop the future workforce and undertake research into passenger and freight rail efficiency, reliability and safety.

Research topics could include rolling stock technology, Positive Train Control, human factors, infrastructure enhancement, shared corridors, level crossing safety, trespass prevention, inspection technology, remote sensing, whole-system approaches to maintenance, network resiliency, operational reliability and energy efficiency.

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded consortium leader the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign up to $5m to cover 50% of the cost of establishing and operating the NURail CoE and supporting research activities over three years.

The university’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering ‘is proud to be the home of the premier railroad engineering programme in North America’, said department head Ana Barros on October 3. ‘This latest investment by the US Department of Transportation is sure to pay dividends for years to come in the form of critical advancements in railroad research and education.’

The nine universities will each contribute a portion of the total non-federal match funding.

They will all develop structured programmes to introduce minority and women students to different facets of rail transport and provide pathways for them to begin rail careers. 

NURail CoE consortium

  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (leader)
  • University of Illinois Chicago
  • University of Delaware
  • Kansas State University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Morgan State University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Tuskegee University