Case study: Repoint

Developed by Loughborough University’s Control Systems Research Group, Repoint is a revolutionary new railway track switch that could help support increased levels of day-to-day rail traffic across our networks and significantly reduce rail service disruption caused by points failures.

Now, with the backing of a consortium led by Ricardo Rail Ltd, the patented technology is being developed with the first installation – an integration with the London underground infrastructure – scheduled for early 2018.

Loughborough University is a long-standing client of Serjeants for patent-related technology projects and we acted as their patent attorneys for the Repoint system. We worked closely with the university and lead inventor, Sam Bemment, to identify several unique aspects of the technology which required patent protection. Serjeants managed the patent process and filed three patent applications, which were granted in the UK in 2016.

The Repoint design means that in the event of a single actuator failure within a machine, it can still function safely, and rail traffic can still pass without causing immediate disruption to services. The disruption caused by a single failure was identified by the industry as a major limitation to the current switch machines.

Repoint also uses a unique mechanism that eliminates friction so it is much faster to operate; Repoint can move a switch in under half a second, compared to four seconds for conventional designs – an improvement that can help support increased network capacity.

The development of Repoint originates from a request by the industry’s independent body RSSB, to explore ways to increase network capacity. Following discussions with industry stakeholders, Loughborough University felt that the current switch machines could benefit from a fresh approach, given that they account for over 15% of the track maintenance budget.

The Repoint design also won the 2016 Transport IET Innovation award.

Serjeants have also filed patent applications for Repoint across a further 15 countries worldwide, including the US, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.