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Train Scheduling Gets Quantum Boost

Q-CTRL wins $1.3M in Quantum Catalyst Competition for quantum solvers to optimize rail networks

Berenice Baker, Editor, Enter Quantum

February 6, 2024

2 Min Read
Trains at King's Cross station in London
Quantum could help the U.K.'s trains run on timeNetword Rail

Q-CTRL has won a competition to improve train transport scheduling using quantum-hardware-optimized algorithmic solvers built on its proprietary performance management software.

Q-CTRL's proposal aims to address train schedule optimization for large-scale rail networks and detailed station routing.

The company, which develops quantum control infrastructure software that makes quantum technologies useful, was awarded $1.3 million from the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Quantum Catalyst Fund Competition, which aims to tackle pressing government problems.

The U.K. Department for Transport and Network Rail, the body that oversees Britain’s rail network and infrastructure, are the customers for the quantum-powered train scheduling optimization software.

Planning and operating public rail transport networks involves balancing many factors including passenger service, infrastructure management and resilience to disruption. This multifactor optimization problem is challenging for classical computing systems but is well-suited to quantum methods.

The Department for Transport and Network Rail want to use quantum solutions for scheduling to provide improvements in transit time, robustness to delays and reductions in operating costs and emissions.

Related:UK Government Invests $57M in Quantum Sector

Q-CTRL will develop a quantum optimization algorithm for high-performance scheduling to run efficiently on quantum computer hardware, testing it on systems from Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC).

The software is designed to be usable by anyone in the Department for Transport and Network Rail’s scheduling team, without needing any expertise in quantum computing.

"This funding marks a significant step towards applying quantum computing in practical settings,” said Q-CTRL head of quantum control solutions Andre Carvalho.

“By optimizing train schedules with quantum algorithms, we're not just enhancing efficiency and reducing emissions; we're paving the way for quantum technologies to solve real-world problems and make a tangible impact on people's lives.”

The SBRI competition is funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and Innovate U.K. to explore the potential benefits of using quantum technologies for government use cases.

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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