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Network Rail and Swiss rail operator SBB signs agreement to strengthen ties

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be among the technologies that Network Rail and Swiss railway company SBB will be working on as part of an agreement signed by the companies today (24th July).

The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), marks the first step by Network Rail to strengthen ties with international railway operators, sharing knowledge and best practice.

It is part of Network Rail’s newly formed International Research & Development partnership programme (IRDPP), which aims to deliver and develop technology to improve safety and deliver a network fit for passengers and freight customers. It will initially look at AI technology for use in inspections of steel bridges and track, specifically switch and crosses, and light-rail remote condition monitoring.

Robert Ampomah, Network Rail’s Chief Technology Officer said: “This partnership marks a major step for us as an organisation, partnering with the international rail community, to share experiences in operating a railway. Looking at what works and what doesn’t, will, help us shape and develop innovative technology that will go towards modernising the railway.

“There has always been a history of information sharing with rail colleagues nationally and internationally but signing the MoU today with SBB solidifies our commitment to work more closely together.”

Roland Mosner, SBB’s Head of Technology, said: “It has been fundamental to us as an organisation to continue to look forward in terms of sharing best practices and advances in applied research and development.

“By jointly improving our operational excellence we strive for the best returns for our passengers and customers. The signing of the MoU with Network Rail (NR) is one giant step in keeping the momentum moving in the right direction. We welcome the opportunity to collaboratively work with Network Rail and to share the positive outcomes this will bring.”

Projects developed as part of IRDPP will be jointly funded with the responsibility for resources, testing capabilities, and best practices shared between both parties – initially in the form of workshops both in person and online.

Image credit: Network Rail

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