Dr Taku Fujiyama is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Transport Studies (UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering),UK.
Taku has been collaborating on the development of models and algorithms for real-time railway traffic optimisation with academics from Roma Tre University.
In this edition of Ask an Academic, he speaks more about this collaboration and how he has been working to encourage collaboration between the academia and the railway industry as published by UCL Global Blog.
Q: Can you give us a brief overview of your research project?
A: Prof Andrea D’Ariano of Roma Tre University and I have been collaborating on the development of models and algorithms for real-time railway traffic optimisation for several years now.
Real-time railway traffic control is essential for railway operations in major cities such as Rome and London where many trains are running, and delays often happen. In this City Partnership-funded project, we ran short courses and workshops on algorithms at both Rome and London to facilitate further collaboration between the academia and the railway industry.
Q: What got you interested in the subject in the first place?
A: Before joining UCL as a PhD student, I was working in a railway company in Japan where I was involved in major station development projects in Tokyo, where I designed passenger facilities (platforms, subways, and concourses). They are still there, and hopefully will be there for some time. So I was already involved in this subject when I started my PhD.
Q: How did the collaboration with Roma Tre come about?
A: Andrea and I have been in discussion to do something together since we first met. Academics are always looking for opportunities, and luckily this City Partnership gave us an opportunity. Later our common collaborator Dr Yihui Wang (Beijing Jiaotong University) joined this, so it is now a Rome and Beijing partnership for UCL.
Q: What difference do you hope this project will make?
A: This project may be different from other projects funded by the scheme. Andrea, Yihui and I would like to not only advance research collaboration but also involve more industry partners. Whilst I am already collaborating with industry partners, this project allows Andrea, Yihui and myself to increase dimensions of our academic capabilities so that we can address complex multi-dimensional issues which our industry partners face.
Q: What has been the most interesting outcome from your work with Prof Andrea Ariano?
A: As an immediate output from the project, we delivered a short course which attracted more than 80 participants – some practitioners were even from other countries including the USA. Whilst we are working on some academic papers based on discussions between ourselves, we are also hoping that we can convert our practitioner networks to some platform which harvests academia-industry collaboration.
Q: What would you say to other academics at UCL thinking of applying for Cities partnerships Programme funding?
A: This is a unique and helpful initiative, which enables any collaboration to go further. If you are lucky to have a partner in a selected city, just go for it! (And I hope that this programme will include more cities.)