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repoint visit

8 Apr 2019

Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan highlights the importance of “homegrown innovation” during tour of campus engineering labs

The Repoint switch during testing at Quorn Great Central Railways last month

MP Nicky Morgan has championed “homegrown innovation” during a tour of Loughborough University’s engineering labs where she was shown a new rail technology which aims to end points failure delays in Britain.

The former cabinet minister visited the Repoint testing workshop this morning where she was given a demonstration of a ground-breaking points switch design which aims to improve the safety and efficiency of UK rail travel.

Switch failures cost Network Rail more than £120 million-a-year and account for more than 3,800,000 minutes (63,300 hours) of delays.

Repoint would cut those figures by up to 90%.

Speaking about the project, Ms Morgan said: “What's fascinating about this is seeing something that started life as an academic project become a reality.

“The challenge now is getting industry to implement it, but it's great to see homegrown innovation.

“It addresses one of the biggest issues of rail reliability, and if it's adopted would have real measurable impact on everybody's lives.

“Rail use is growing so anything that can be done to improve reliability should be very well received.”

‌Dr Chris Ward showing MP Nicky Morgan an earlier test version of the Repoint track switch

The technology was unveiled on January 31, to guests from the rail industry, including representatives from Network Rail, the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

Repoint uses its three motors, or actuators, to bend the rails up and over into position.

Bending the rails takes away any risk of failure in repositioning them as they naturally snap back into place due to the force (potential energy) pushing them back down.

The design featured on the One Show in March, and work is now underway to find industry partners to take the project to the next level.

Professor Tracy Bhamra, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, at Loughborough, said: “Repoint epitomises how we collaborate to deliver innovative solutions with the potential for far-reaching economic and societal benefit.

“With the support of the RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board) and the Government, the technology has been demonstrated in a working environment – significantly beyond where universities normally work.”

Representatives from Railway Industry Association (RIA) were also at the event.

Senior Public Affairs and PR Manager Max Sugarman gave a short presentation about the background to the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme, an initiative that sees MPs from across the country visit organisations in the rail supply industry to find out more about the sector.