Transport for Wales (TfW) has signed heads of terms to become a major commercial client of the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE).

The GCRE is a £400m research, testing, and certification facility for rolling stock, infrastructure, and innovative new rail technologies being constructed at the head of the Dulais and Swansea Valleys.

As part of the GCRE membership model, companies can take guaranteed testing and research time at the site when it opens, according to their innovation needs.

TfW intends to take the highest level of membership at GCRE and become a ‘Premium’ client of the facility, which is due to be completed in 2025.

The collaboration will see GCRE support TfW with its rail testing, innovation and R&D.

“The GCRE is one of the most exciting and important pieces of infrastructure being built anywhere in Europe today. It will be at the forefront of rail innovation, supporting the development of new products and technologies that will be the backbone of the high-quality, integrated and net zero transport networks we need right across the continent in the coming years,” Welsh Government Deputy Minister for climate change Lee Waters said.

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“It’s fantastic that this agreement between GCRE and TfW has been finalised and that passenger delivery is going to be a central focus of the collaboration, ultimately benefiting communities and commuters right across Wales.”

As well as testing, R&D and innovation, the deal paves the way for TfW to use other GCRE services, including storage, training and product approvals in future as these are developed.

Simon Jones, GCRE CEO, said the agreement was a “natural” one and would support the passenger delivery focus of TfW as well as the major infrastructure programme it has across Wales and the Borders.

“I’m pleased to finalise this exciting partnership with TfW, a long-term agreement that will see TfW become a premium client of the GCRE and secure access to the world-class testing and innovation facilities we will have on-site,” said Jones.

“What GCRE can provide to TfW is an international quality, purpose-built and offline facility, right here in Wales, that can support the TfW team as they implement their ambitious strategic programme.

“Passenger delivery is a critical focus for TfW and through this agreement with GCRE we can support new and innovative ways of delivering for customers along the Wales and Borders route.”

In April, Hitachi signed an agreement to test rolling stock, digital solutions, and battery technology at GCRE.

GCRE is currently undertaking a major public procurement to attract £330m of private investment into the company.