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Digital partnership boost for Britain's railways

Wednesday 29 June 2016

THINKlab – the University’s Future Lab which specialises in creating digital simulations for industry – has been shortlisted for the North West Regional Construction Awards.

The lab, managed by the School of the Built Environment but working across the institution, was recognised for its outstanding work in creating 4-dimensional simulations for Network Rail to facilitate the planning of track renewal.

It comes as the university has signed a contract to roll the technology out across the country after successful series of trials, cementing our long-standing relationship with one of the UK largest engineering firms. This is a prime example of how we are delivering on our ICZ strategy working hand-in-hand with major industry and delivering real results using our specialist equipment and technical know-how.

We will find out if the project has won the award for Outstanding Building Information Modelling Project at the NWRCAs held in Liverpool on June 30.

The Director of THINKlab Professor Terrence Fernando said: “We are thrilled that our long-term contribution to Network Rail’s work is now having a real impact on the business at a national level.

“The company are describing the new package as a ‘game-changer’ in rail network planning, so we are already winners so anything we pick up at the NWRCA would be a bonus.”

THINKlab technologists have helped the company replace its traditional power point planning diagrams with 4-D simulations, meaning the tool can be is used for visualising and scheduling of tasks to the minute over a time period, allowing them to run different scenarios  for pre-work briefings and post-work evaluation.

“I have been planning track renewals for 17 years and this has blown me away,” says Stephen Kearney a site manager for Network Rail. “It’s suitable for small planning schemes as well as major programmes over a number of years.”

Nathan Lord, site manager at S&C South Alliance said the possibilities of the package were “unbelievable” and it gave them the confidence to know their planning for deliver more efficiency at lower cost.

Head of Transformation at S&C South Alliance said “this is a 4D planning package for now that will take us into the future of delivering more”

Network Rail has now created a steering committee involving senior staff, to work with THINKlab to ensure the 4D simulation environment becomes an integral part of Network Rail future track renewal programmes.

See how the package works in this company video.