UK Rail sector to deliver £92m Centres of Excellence

The UK rail sector has launched the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) a ground-breaking partnership between the rail industry and eight universities to deliver four world class Centres of Excellence covering rolling stock, infrastructure, digital systems and testing.

UKRRIN gives the rail industry access to purpose-built world leading facilities and skills in a range of areas to support research, development and innovation for new technologies and products.

“We are investing in the biggest modernisation programme of our railways since Victorian times,” said Rail Minister, Jo Johnson MP. “In doing so, we are utilising a range of new technologies across the network and Britain is now at the cutting edge of digital signalling, high speed transport and railway infrastructure.

“New centres of excellence, bringing together experts, universities and the wider rail industry will be essential in achieving our ambition to get all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040 as well as delivering the advanced railway network that passengers deserve.”

The universities of Southampton, Nottingham, Sheffield, Loughborough and Heriot-Watt will lead the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure.

Three other centres will focus on Digital Systems (led by the University of Birmingham), Rolling Stock (led by the University of Huddersfield) and Testing (led by Network Rail with their Rail Innovation & Development Centres).

These four Centres will enable industry to deliver products and technology to market faster using advanced purpose-built development, simulation and testing facilities.They will also help the UK maintain its position as a technology leader in rail on the world stage.

UKRRIN has been established following a successful £28m bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England to create four rail Centres of Excellence, backed by commitment from the rail industry to invest more than £60m in research, development and innovation activities at these Centres over the next ten years.

The Network’s key objectives are:

  • Support and build UK rail sector capacity and capability to develop, deliver and deploy new technologies;
  • Deliver a step change investment in rail innovation through a world-leading network of UK- based research and testing centres;
  • Radically increase UK rail productivity and performance by delivering transformational innovations and accelerating its uptake;
  • Develop new strategic relationships with the small – medium sized enterprise supply chain, rail industry and wider transport sector.