REPOINT – a breakthrough in fail-safe rail track switching

REPOINT is a revolutionary railroad switch system, which delivers improved performance, network capacity and reduced cost of ownership.


Put simply – REPOINT is a failsafe switch.



Railway networks need innovation to increase capacity and reliability.


Railway track switches have worked the same way for over 200 years, are not always reliable and costly to maintain. The necessary signalling, detection and locking systems built into these  switches to ensure safety limit operational speed and significantly reduce network capacity. And when there is a problem, switch machine failure stops the trains.


We listened to the rail industry to develop the solution

When Loughborough University’s Control Systems Research Group was asked by the UK Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) in 2010 to look at ways of improving capacity on existing lines, we found that a significant limiting factor was the track switch.

We spoke to operators, maintainers and designers and began to understand the limits of the existing switch machines. We asked them what performance they would want, if our team could redesign the switch from scratch.


Repoint delivers

Faster Switching: ± 0.5 secs compared with typically 4 secs for conventional design.

No Maintenance: Minimal - no requirement to check clearances, loose bolts or lubrication.

Fewer switches: Triplex redundancy, other failure modes eliminated including those that have results in fatal accidents.

Actuator protected from weather in sealed unit, no switch blade gap to trap items, no linkages to work loose.


Other Benefits

Can provide multiple turnouts.  Turnouts can have differing cants.

Reduced cost: Significantly reduced cost from fewer component parts, e.g. no external mechanism required and easier installation.   

No speed restriction: Where space allows.

Reduced energy usage: No friction losses from sliding switches. Energy use could almost be zero if actuator or motor regenerates power whilst braking during downward movement.

No space requirement: Mechanism takes up little more space than existing sleepers.


Repoint can deliver a significant increase in capacity amounting to 10% more trains per hour and at a reduced whole life cost – without the need to build new railway tracks.


Repoint improves capacity without the need for new investment

Research to develop Repoint began in 2011. It has secured more than £2M in funding to deliver basic principles, a functioning laboratory demonstrator, a comprehensive understanding of how the machine will deliver network capacity improvements, and a concept design that will be both reliable and maintainable in the field.


Unique technology

Repoint is a revolutionary points mechanism Repoint delivers fault tolerance through multiplex redundancy, and when maintenance is required, it has a single Line Replaceable Unit construction which can be replaced in minutes.


Think of Repoint like an aircraft – multiple engines keep you flying in the event of a single engine failure. As a result, trains can continue to run without delays, meaning faults can be tolerated and immediate reactive maintenance is not needed.



The first Repoint protoype will be delivered and tested with a UK operator in September 2018.

Loughborough University is seeking partners to develop this technology, and make it a reality

around the world.


Loughborough University will licence its IP to 3rd parties on a royalty-free basis to develop, and then manufacture or have manufactured Repoint systems to be supplied to UK rail customers for use in the UK.


Loughborough University intends to grant licences for its IP to 3rd parties on a royalty-bearing territory by territory basis to develop, and then manufacture or have manufactured Repoint systems to be supplied to rail customers outside the UK.




Graduate wins UK’s Best Young Railway Researcher

REPOINT - boosting railway safety and capacity

One to Watch 

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Paul Burrows
IP Exploitation Manager
Loughborough University
Roger Dixon
Samuel Bemment
Rail network modelling and optimisation
Rail performance metrics
Rail reliability metrics
Rail Transportation
Railway asset condition monitoring
Regulatory Affairs
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