News Archive

Universal Signalling appoints new Product Director

22 December 2023:

Mark Beeson, a former Technical Director, has joined Universal Signalling as Product Director. 

Mark has over 20 years of multi-disciplinary engineering experience encompassing railway signalling, electronic engineering and software design. He has been instrumental in the conception, design and acceptance of a series of innovative and disruptive railway signalling products, managing the entire product lifecycle from cradle to grave.

Equally at home in the boardroom, with the customer or in a design meeting Mark has a reputation for placing himself at the centre of the business, allowing others to freely play to their strengths, delivering successful outcomes for all.

Next generation digital signalling to be trialled at BCIMO as part of Clean Futures programme

11 December 2023:

Universal Signalling has been named as one of twenty firms at the leading edge of efforts to reduce the transport sector’s reliance on fossil fuels that have been announced as participants on the Clean Futures accelerator programme in the West Midlands.

Clean Futures is led by Connected Places Catapult alongside programme partners the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation, Coventry University and CU Services Limited.

Companies chosen for the programme will each receive up to £50,000 to trial their solutions over the next six months, and address one of five challenge areas associated with the rail and automotive manufacturing sectors. The challenges cover greener electric vehicle components; the circular economy of transport; road freight alternatives; greener transport infrastructure; and future fuels.

The accelerator will also provide bespoke technical and commercial support as well as networking and showcasing events to connect the SMEs with industry and financial partners.

Alex Weedon, Executive Director, Connected Places Catapult, SME Development and Academic Engagement, stated: “Working with our excellent partners, the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation, Coventry University and CU Services Limited, the Clean Futures accelerator programme aims to really move the needle in the West Midlands by supporting the most exciting cleantech innovators.

“Connected Places Catapult is delighted to be supporting the 20 small to medium sized companies in this first cohort of the programme, and we look forward to seeing their ideas develop.”

Stephen Head, Project director for the BCIMO deployment added: "This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate our novel approach to signalling in a real rail environment. We are incredibly excited to be involved in the programme and look forwards to seeing how all the other teams' innovations develop over time."

Universal Signalling signs development agreement with Mobius Networks 

07 December 2023: 

Universal Signalling Ltd (USL) has signed an agreement with Mobius Networks Ltd, which will see Mobius provide communications and support services to the railway signalling technology startup. Under the agreement, Mobius will support USL’s first two demonstration and development systems by providing communications and backhaul services with unrivalled, industry-leading uptime.

“Public networks will be an essential and inevitable part of the communications mix of any future signalling and operations system, anywhere in the world” said Dr Sam Bemment, co-founder at Universal Signalling. “We know Mobius are the industry leaders in this respect, and we are delighted to sign this agreement. We look forwards to working with Mobius to demonstrate our system in real rail environments in the coming year.”

Mobius Networks Ltd is a leading supplier of communications services across a number of vertical sincluding critical national infrastructure, with a strong and growing presence in rail across operations and retail. They are already the supplier of choice for several safety-critical applications requiring high uptime and low latency.

Peter Simm, of Mobius Networks, added “As soon as we saw what Universal Signalling were proposing, we were keen to get involved. It became obvious that our specialist knowledge and support services would make the ideal partnership to support them on their journey. Deploying something that works fine in the lab out on the big railway often brings significant unforeseen challenges. In that respect, our experience over many years in bringing similar systems to market will pay dividends.”

USL is currently constructing two whole-system demonstrators of its next-generation digital signalling system. The first is targeted at light rail and scheduled for completion mid-2024. The heavy-rail version will follow towards the end of the year. USL claim their patent-pending system slashes costs and radically reduces deployment times.  

“The future of signalling is digital,” Dr Bemment added, “and there are few in the industry who dispute this. However, in the UK the term ‘digital signalling’ has come to mean ETCS, a system specified when the Nokia 3310 was state of the art. Clearly, technology has moved on. Most railways want signalling that is simple, cheap, flexible, and quick to retrofit to existing trains and infrastructure. The architecture of ETCS prevents it being any of these things, whilst our new system can tick all the boxes. Of course, we expect healthy scepticism to our claims, which is why our whole-system demonstrators – supported by experts like Mobius - are so important.”

Whilst the locations of the demonstrators have not yet been announced, USL has opened registration on its website for a series of ‘demo days’ for both systems, to be held in 2024.

Universal Signalling joins Railway Industry Association 

20 November 2023: 

Universal Signalling is proud to have become a member of the Railway Industry Association, the voice of the UK Rail supply community and the UK's premier rail trade association, with history dating back almost 150 years. 

Rose Garber, Member Relations Director at RIA, commented: 'We are excited to have such a promising export start-up adding to our ever growing membership and delighted they see value in joining RIA. I look forward to seeing them more regularly at our technical, policy and exports events to hear about their exciting developments'. 

Universal Signalling signs letter of support for GCRE

28 September 2023:

Universal Signalling has become one of more than 100 organisations to endorse the ‘once in a generation’ Global Centre of Rail Excellence, one of the most important and creative infrastructure projects in rail today. 

'Having closely followed the development and progress of the GCRE, we firmly believe it will play a crucial role in advancing the railway and demonstrating its wider social impact, too. We are committed to supporting the development of the Global Centre of Rail Excellence and can see value to our business in the range of services it is offering.' (excerpt from support letter)

Universal Signalling meets Railmotive

31 August 2023:

As part of a series of meetings with industry operators, maintainers, specifiers and owners, arranged to garner feedback on US's proposals, US met with Railmotive on 30 August. A number of topics were discussed with positive feedback (and a few minor tweaks!) regarding US's proposals. 

Railmotive Managing Director, Karl Watts, FCIRO, commented: 'Imagine a railway where £billions could be saved on new resignalling schemes, where changes could be made to the infrastructure at minimum cost and track based engineering activities could be made even safer. A pipe dream? Maybe not. I met up with Dr Sam Bemment and Stephen Head from Universal Signalling to learn more about their new, pioneering signalling system. Technology moves on and the architecture of this revolutionary system has the potential to significantly reduce the current, extremely lengthy design, installation, testing and assurance processes. It also has the potential to reduce the cost of new signalling schemes by up to 90%. Too good to be true? I don’t think so.'

Reassuring words! We look forwards to our upcoming demonstrator reaffirming Railmotive's belief in us.

US strengthens team with new director appointment

4 August 2023:

Stephen Head MBA has joined US [Universal Signalling] as a director, bringing a wealth of operational and rail business experience. Stephen is formerly head of fleet engineering at Heathrow Express, technical director at Go-Ahead Deutshland, rail control systems expert at SNC-Lavalin/Interfleet, and an award-winning chair of the Young Rail Professionals. Stephen has operational and project management experience which will be of prime importance in the coming months, as US looks to close out it's GCRE feasibility work with the clear and unambiguous goal of winning a contract to fit a Universal Interlocking demonstrator to the new Welsh test track. 

Stephen had been providing ad-hoc operations advice and project input for a number of months prior to this this appointment. 

Stephen stated: 'I am excited beyond words to join Universal Signalling. The architecture this organisation proposes has the opportunity to clear out the cobwebs at the very heart of railway command, control and signalling in the way ETCS promised, but then failed to do. Operations will permanently change for the better on any network where it is implemented. I look forward to demonstrating our approach to the industry in the near future' .

Registrations open for US Demo Days

12 June 2023:

The target date for our first in-track demonstrator is mid-2024. 

We have created an expression of interest form for those who wish to experience system operation once our minimum functionality is met. Please fill your details in this form if you would like to be offered* a place to attend one of our proposed demo days. We'll put on buffet lunch, and you will come away with a promotional rubber duck. If you're lucky, you might get to drive a rail vehicle. If not, you might get to watch us do it.

*Places are limited, first-come-first-served and subject to status. 

US to conduct feasibility study for fitment to new test track

13 March 2023:

It has been announced that Universal Signalling's application to the 'Innovation in Railway Construction' competition has been successful. Funding will be awarded for a feasibility study on the fitment of our Universal Interlocking concept to the Global Centre of Rail Excellence . In total, 24 teams won funding, each taking a share of £566k, underwritten by the Department for Business and Trade. In delivering the study, Universal Signalling will be supported by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE).

Head of Rail at the Department for Business and Trade, Mike Noakes, said: 'These projects are a great platform and it will be fantastic to see the best grow into new products and technologies that can be deployed on and around the UK rail network and then globally, with benefit for passengers, operators, the wider industry and UK plc.'

US formed to exploit Universal Interlocking intellectual property

22 December 2022:

Universal Signalling has been formed to exploit intellectual property under development since 2018 by SBE [SkyBlue Engineering Ltd]. SkyBlue is an engineering consultancy specialising in technology research, development and innovation for rail. Over a number of years, SBE has been developing a novel approach to railway safety: an overarching system to protect all of those interacting with the railway, with a price point and flexibility far improving on the market leading digital signalling solutions in ERTMS/ETCS and CBTC

Speaking at the celebration event for company formation, Dr Sam Bemment, award winning co-founder, said: 'Digital signalling is clearly the future. There are few in the industry who doubt that. There are a range of digital solutions you can buy off the shelf, like ETCS. Unfortunately, those systems were specified in the era of the Nokia 3310, and the simple truth is that the world has moved on. Safety technology does not have to be the latest and greatest, but other solutions are hamstrung to technology which is obsolete before it is even fitted. Over the coming months, I look forward to Universal Signalling demonstrating a real-world alternative that will open the eyes of railway professionals to what can be achieved when we flip the architecture on it's head, whilst using existing hardware.'