Robust Digital Control and Autonomy in Railways

University of Birmingham - Civil Engineering; Railway Engineering

In 2018, most safety critical railway systems still rely upon open-loop control to perform their day-to-day operations and functions. Despite work by academic researchers to investigate active tilt, active suspension, active steering and active pantographs there has been very little uptake of these technologies in the industry. Part of the barrier to uptake, is the complexity and opacity of the proposed design methodology and algorithms. This project will take inspiration from traditional PI controllers combined with the state of the art in digital state-space control (in particular PIP control). Extensions to the theory will be researched and developed, alongside the development of a design methodology aimed at industrial engineers. These will be demonstrated through industrially recognised simulation tools and experimentally in the laboratory.

The PhD will be based in the School of Engineering at Birmingham University and the successful candidate will join the Control Systems team at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE).  The BCRRE holds a world leading position in the sector. We also lead the UK’s premier rail research activity, UKRRIN (the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network), through which we have strong links to the industry. Our team of internationally recognised academics are leading experts in a range of fields from railway engineering, to mechatronics, control, systems engineering.

Enquiries should be addressed to Professor Roger Dixon (

A good first degree (typically BEng or Masters) in Engineering or equivalent Science subject is required. We welcome applications from students with their own funding. Also, strong candidates will be considered for a scholarship which would include: Full funding (fees + EPSRC stipend) for home/EU students, fees for O/S students.

Enquiries should be addressed to Professor Roger Dixon (

Please ensure that you name BCRRE and Professor Roger Dixon in the application form.

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Midlands of England