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January 15, 2024

Revolutionising Railways: The Innovative Repoint Technology Inspired by Aircraft Control Systems

Revolutionising Railways: The Innovative Repoint Technology Inspired by Aircraft Control Systems

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are pushing the boundaries of conventional railway switch technology with their cutting-edge Repoint system. Inspired by aircraft control systems, Repoint aims to revolutionise the traditional railway switch design that has been in use for over two centuries. The innovative technology employs a lift and move mechanism, combined with a stub-switch type layout, offering improved efficiency and fault tolerance.

The Traditional Design

For more than 200 years, the basic principle of railway point switching has remained relatively unchanged. Conventional switches guide trains from one track to another by horizontally sliding a pair of tapering rails. While effective, this design has limitations, prompting researchers to explore new possibilities and enhance the efficiency and reliability of railway infrastructure.

The Repoint Technology

Repoint introduces a novel approach by adopting a lift and move mechanism for railway point switching. This departure from the traditional sliding rails brings about several advantages. The lift and move mechanism is complemented by a passive lock that secures the points in place, ensuring stability during train transitions. Additionally, Repoint features a stub-switch type layout, providing flexibility and improved performance in various scenarios.


One of the standout features of Repoint is its fault-tolerant design. Traditional switches may face disruptions if any of the essential components fail. In contrast, Repoint continues to function even in the face of adversity. The technology remains operational even if two out of the three actuators responsible for controlling the movement of the points experience failure. This resilience ensures uninterrupted railway operations, minimising downtime and enhancing overall system reliability.

Inspiration from Aircraft Control Systems

The inspiration drawn from aircraft control systems is a key element in Repoint's success. Aircraft control systems are renowned for their precision, reliability, and safety features. By incorporating similar principles into railway point switching, the researchers aim to elevate the standards of railway infrastructure, ensuring a smoother and more efficient operation.

Potential Implications

The Repoint technology opens up new possibilities for the railway industry, promising enhanced efficiency, reliability, and safety. As railways continue to play a crucial role in transportation globally, innovations like Repoint can contribute to the overall modernisation and optimisation of railway networks.


The Repoint technology developed by the University of Birmingham represents a significant leap forward in railway point switching systems. By embracing a lift and move mechanism inspired by aircraft control systems, Repoint offers a fault-tolerant solution that could transform the way railways operate.

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