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The Business Magazine May 2024
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Funding award set to boost development of ground-breaking railway monitoring system

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13 February 2024
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A project to develop a ground-breaking new monitoring system for trains on railways has been boosted after winning a UK government-funded Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition.

MoniRail, an SME and University of Birmingham spin-out, and its partners Transport for London (TfL), Imperial College London, University of Sussex, University of Birmingham, PA Consulting, QinetiQ, and Unipart have been named winners of the 'SBRI: Quantum Catalyst Fund (Phase 2)'.

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It will help advance their work on a Quantum-based navigation system to address the issues arising from the loss of satellite signal in tunnels.

"This funding win will help our relationships and partnerships to produce significant advances in the area of positioning accuracy and enhance our track monitoring solution, through the creation of groundbreaking technology," said Peter Ainsworth, the CEO at MoniRail.

Timothy Mangozza, technology expert at PA Consulting, added: "A quantum-based navigation system for railways has great potential in the industry.

"PA Consulting is delighted to be partnering with academia and industry on this project, bringing our specialised knowledge of quantum, engineering, and innovation to bring value to the transport sector."

Professor Paul Plummer, director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of Birmingham, added: "It is exciting to see what bringing together academia and industry can do for the transport sector and the economy as a whole.

"Access to technological developments, coupled with evidence-backed research and industry know-how, provide a pathway for SMEs like MoniRail to make a difference and shape the future of transportation."

Understanding the positions of trains on networks to high degrees of accuracy is critical for rail infrastructure monitoring, measurement, and maintenance. And it is one of the biggest expenses for the railways with over £2bn per year invested in infrastructure maintenance.

MoniRail's approach is to use a train as a sensor to frequently monitor track. This, coupled with precise positioning, provides a more accurate understanding of a rail network’s condition.

Success in this funding competition will allow collaboration with other industry leaders, furthering work in this area with a particular focus on train positioning without the use of satellites.

MoniRail can boast over 50 years of combined rail experience and is a results driven team of industry experts dedicated to delivering non-intrusive track monitoring solutions, through comprehensive knowledge of the infrastructure and its pitfalls.


Giles Gwinnett is a writer at The Business Magazine. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and covered a vast array of topics at a range of media settings - in print and online. After his NCTJ newspaper training, he became a reporter in Hampshire before moving to a news agency in Gloucestershire. In recent years, he has been covering the financial markets along with company news for an investor-focused web portal. His many interests include politics, energy and the environment. He lives in Dorset.

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