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International Railway Benchmarking: to establish a capability and international reputation for the production of objective and independent railway benchmarking data and intelligence

Project Description

The Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE) is based at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and comprises the largest centre for railway education and research in the UK, possibly in the EU. The BCRRE promotes both international relationships across the railway world and international comparisons for shared learning.

The University is seeking talented individuals who wans to help shape and develop the centre’s work in the area of international benchmarking.Potential students with their own funding can apply at any time. Funding occasionally becomes available for scholarships.
Most examples of international railway benchmarking are either motivated by a particular railway interest to establish how much a railway should cost (as in Britain with the Office of Rail and Road and the regulated entity each develop their own models), or by confidential subscription clubs where the benchmarking activity is directed or undertaken privately and shared amongst the subscribers for mutual benefit. The BCRRE vision is to establish a capability and international reputation for the production of objective and independent railway benchmarking data and intelligence that can be relied upon by academic researchers, railway businesses and government agencies alike.

The availability of quality comparative data is part of the challenge, as there are very real interests in maintaining confidentiality for commercial or even political reasons. However, there are also a number of published sources such as those from regulatory processes at national or international level, associations of railway and supply industry companies, the published accounts of railway businesses, research reports and so on, and although they are produced in different formats and using varied definitions, there is potential to derive meaningful intelligence through collation, creative thinking and analysis.

Candidates are invited to apply for a studentship position by setting out their proposals for a doctoral thesis. This invitation is not intended to be prescriptive, but applications will be judged on their potential to contribute positively to the BCRRE vision summarised above. Proposals could range from a macro horizon scanning across the world of railways/ railway data and the generation of new insights into what large volumes of high level data can tell us about world railways – to the collection of and drilling down into data of a particular type, seeking to understand what it is telling us, together with the reasons for regional variations. The scope could include benchmarking activity within any or all of the following: safety, asset condition and reliability, performance, customer perceptions, financial performance, capacity and utilisation, different technical systems (high speed/conventional/dedicated/mixed traffic/metro/freight only etc), railway sub systems (Control & Signalling, Track, Structures, level crossings etc) carbon, development levels, innovation, investment, productivity.

This studentship will be based in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE). The group is multidisciplinary in nature and the academics are expert in the areas of railway engineering systems, simulation, condition monitoring, hardware, energy, and infrastructure development, to name a few.

The student will register with the School of Civil Engineering.

Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Anson Jack ().
The PhD will be jointly supervised by Professors Anson Jack and Clive Roberts who is Director of the BCRRE.

To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in the School, the funding opportunities available for your subject, and guidance on making your application, you can order a copy of our Doctoral Research Prospectus, at:

Funding Notes

This position is available to suitably qualified self funded students who can start at any time. Occasionally the funding for scholarships is made available through partner organisations

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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