The UK’s High Speed 2 (HS2) has signed a new agreement with the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).

The move will provide the firm with access to research capabilities and facilities to accelerate innovation.

HS2 project head of innovation Howard Mitchell said: “HS2 is a major opportunity for British academia and UK plc to come together and meet the challenge of delivering what is a huge investment in the country’s future.

“The programme’s scale and longevity creates the right conditions to develop solutions for High Speed 2 and also the wider rail industry – both of which are crucial in helping Britain to decarbonise.”

As agreed, the University of Birmingham will coordinate UKRRIN activities in support of HS2. The institution will also be in charge to support research and development (R&D) from three UKRRIN academic centres of excellence.

The University of Birmingham will also lead the first project to be undertaken as part of the agreement.

The project will utilise simulation models to gain a better understanding of the performance of expansion joints that are used on high-speed rails.

University of Birmingham College of Engineering and Physical Sciences head Stephen Jarvis said: “By supporting HS2’s research programme, we can help accelerate advances that will improve the UK’s railways through increasing capacity and decreasing the system’s carbon footprint.

“Through initiatives like this, we can put the UK at the forefront of rail innovation and play our part in restoring the UK’s economy.”

The UKRRIN was formed to facilitate collaboration between academia and industry to support innovation in the railway sector, as well as expedite the development of new technologies and products.