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Balfour Beatty launches new Rail Innovation Centre

Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, has launched its new Rail Innovation Centre at its Raynesway facility in Derby in the presence of leading rail industry figures, academics and media commentators.

The purpose-built Rail Innovation Centre is a dedicated research, development and testing facility covering over 450m2 to support Balfour Beatty’s contribution to the development of the digital railway for a more reliable, cost-efficient and safe railway network for all users across the UK and overseas.

The new Rail Innovation Centre will bring together Balfour Beatty’s expertise in systems engineering, computer science, robotics, data analytics, electronics and electrical and mechanical engineering, and in combination with the company’s York and Matlock offices will employ over 150 leading technicians, engineers, data scientists and developers with expertise and knowledge of the design, operation and maintenance of the railway.

The new Rail Innovation Centre will be home to the latest developments in measurement systems, ‘predict and prevent’ technology, signalling and data science. Balfour Beatty’s industry-leading products and software include TrueTrak™, OmniVision®, OmniSurveyor3D®, OmniCapture3D™, DataMap™ and AssetView™.

These technologies build on established systems and are the latest developments in artificial intelligence including; ‘machine learning’ and ‘machine vision’ systems, the application of robot testing which will enable remote, unattended and high-speed testing of the rail infrastructure in a safe and controlled environment. Specific benefits include better insight into the operations and performance of key railway assets, optimised maintenance and renewal strategies and enhanced safety.

Opening the Rail Innovation Centre Mark Bullock, Balfour Beatty’s Chief Executive Officer for Rail and Utilities, said, “Digital technologies are rapidly changing the rail industry, bringing new efficiencies and presenting new opportunities. The Rail Innovation Centre is at the heart of Balfour Beatty’s technology offering with the specific purpose of driving efficiencies and safety across the rail network for those who work on the railway and ultimately the travelling public.”

The Rail Innovation Centre will develop high-value jobs across a range of disciplines and will allow Balfour Beatty to maintain and grow its graduate and technical schemes to develop the next generation of rail engineers The company expect to initially employ four graduates, five apprentices and three trainees in the Rail Innovation Centre.

The new facility will also enable collaboration and knowledge sharing with a range of stakeholders and industry partners, the strengthening of Balfour Beatty’s relationships with the data science community and further mutually beneficial links with universities.