Marcelo Blumenfeld, Assistant Professor in Future Transport Systems at the University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering provides an overview of his trip to Malaysia and the successes that came from it.
A few weeks ago (from the 22nd – 24th June) the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) debuted in its participation at the Rail Solutions Asia conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The event brought together over 2,000 rail professionals from industry, academia, and government from ASEAN countries and abroad.
Leading a number of projects in the Asian continent, I represented on the stand and chaired a session on Education & Training, where I was joined by colleagues from University Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and the Asian Rail Academy.
The sheer enthusiasm on building capacity in the region is a direct result of the rapid development of the railway sector not only in Malaysia, but also in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. These countries have recently inaugurated modern railway systems that are shifting the transport landscape in their megacities. And yet there is much more to come, in the form of urban and intercity lines, and also high-speed rail to support much stronger economic links between the nations.
In such environment, it was natural that the global leadership of BCRRE generated significant interest, leading to fruitful discussions with a variety of stakeholders from industry, academia, and governments. This included an initial connection with MyRA, represented by its director James Warren, exploring the potential synergies in education and capacity building between the two organisations. MyRA is part of KTMB (the main railway operator in the country) and is committed to providing educational training and human capital development in railway-related services. It is also research-centric apart from offering academic opportunities through comprehensive programmes with its academic board. MyRA offers more than 600 technical subjects and have trained over 50,000 people since 1973.
Following the conference, I was kindly hosted by Dr Azman Senin and his team at the Rail Centre at University Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) where I met the team and visited their impressive facilities. UniKL has a range of the latest equipment for hands-on teaching, such as a scaled model line, switches, vehicles and simulators. The group presented their latest research, and discussed the pathways for collaboration between the institutions.
I return to the UK with great prospects from Malaysia and the wider ASEAN region. South East Asian countries are developing their networks remarkably fast, opening new markets for solutions and even more importantly, capacity building. Rail Solutions Asia returns in May 2023 and BCRRE hopes to join discussions once again.