Case Study

University of South Wales     Back to universities

Working in partnership to improve rail safety

  • £4.2 million of backing from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government
  • Aims to provide research and development support to SMEs (small, and medium-sized enterprises) in the Valleys, West and North Wales.
  • Educating children through virtual reality about the dangers of railways.

The Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies which is based at the University of South Wales believes that innovation is a vital part of business growth. The Centre supports Welsh businesses that are seeking to create new products, solutions and services, through bespoke funded collaborative research projects.

The Centre envisage a Wales where businesses continuously innovate, utilising emerging technologies to provide market leading products and services that shape the future. Its aim is to contribute to an environment where the knowledge and capacity to innovate are key business drivers.

The Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies has been working with Motion Rail to produce a virtual reality system that can give users a safe way to learn about the dangers posed by railways following support and advice from the Welsh Government’s flagship business support programme, Business Wales, Motion Rail has produced.

A not-for-profit arm of the business was then established to take the technology into schools to educate children about the dangers they could face around railways. Using emerging technology to educate rail workers and children around rail safety.

Specialist equipment that can help children understand the dangers of railways has been developed, taking a virtual reality training academy approach to track safety and use its innovation to tap into competitive markets.

The aim of the project is to increase awareness and reduce incidents by making the workforce aware of the appropriate amount of time needed to move out of the way when a train is approaching, giving them a real time scenario in a safe environment. This ensures compliance and saves lives. Additionally, the project educates children and the next generation of railway users, and potential trespassers, about the danger of the railway and the appropriate way of negotiating level and foot crossings.

The programme has received £4.2 million of backing from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government. ERDF’s purpose is to provide research and development support to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the South Wales Valleys, West and North Wales.

Andy Thomas, managing director of England and Wales at Network Rail, said: ‘Britain has one of the safest railways in Europe but we cannot be complacent. As the railway continues to get busier, we must continue to work hard to make sure young people are aware of the dangers that exist on and near the tracks. We’re proud to be at the forefront of innovation in the rail industry, so it’s fantastic to be working with Motion Rail, and supporting their delivery of virtual reality safety sessions in schools. By engaging with young people early, we can raise awareness of rail safety, and help keep the communities we serve safe.’