The University of Birmingham in the UK will establish a new railway research and innovation centre after receiving £15m ($19.6m) from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).
The Centre of Excellence for Railway Through-Life Engineering in Goole, Yorkshire will be established alongside the University of Huddersfield and with the support of Siemens Mobility, which is currently working on a new train manufacturing facility in the area.
It will be led by the university’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) which is Europe’s largest specialist railway research, education and innovation centre.
BCRRE director Professor Clive Roberts said he was delighted to continue the relationship with Siemens with the new centre, which will sit within the company’s rail village.
He said: “With this new funding, our aim is to have the capabilities and tools for through-life engineering from conceptual design all the way to end-of-life with a focus on robotics, sensing and automation, coinciding with our Centre of Excellence in Digital systems.”
News of the centre has also been welcomed by members of the UK’s rail industry with the Railway Industry Association North describing the announcement as “fantastic news”.
Richard Carr, the RIA North business engagement manager, said: “It represents a huge step forward in being able to support both the building and maintaining of rolling stock with a focus on robotics, sensing and automation.”
Funding for the project is part of the UKRPIF’s ambition to set up two new world-leading rail research facilities, with another £15m granted to the BCRRE, Cardiff University and Swansea University to set up a Testing, Validation and Customer Experience centre in South Wales.
Alongside the funding from the UKRPIF, there is also a wider commitment from the rail industry to co-invest £60m while the University of Birmingham will also invest £16m ($20m) into the centre.
The centre’s funding joins the £200m ($262m) already being invested into Goole by Siemens in its 67-acre manufacturing facility which is due to open next year.
Siemens UK Rolling Stock and Customer Services managing director Sambit Banerjee said: “Our vision was always much more than just building a train factory, we want to have a full rail village for the industry and to create a lasting skills legacy in Goole.”
The news comes as the UK government responds to the Transport Select Committee’s report on the 2021 Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands with RIA North welcoming the announcement that a Terms of Reference for the study on how to get HS2 trains to Leeds will be published this week.
The government also said it expected to complete the long-due Strategic Outline Business Case for Northern Powerhouse Rail later this year.