A partnership between the railway supply industry and eight universities has launched the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), which aims to provide the rail industry with access to purpose-built facilities and skills in a variety of areas.
The network has announced plans to deliver four ‘Centres of Excellence’, covering rolling stock, infrastructure, digital systems and testing respectively.
UKRRIN has been established to help improve the UK rail sector capacity and support rail innovation via a network of UK-based research and testing centres.
It also intends to significantly increase rail productivity and overall performance across the country.
Additionally, the collaboration will work to develop strategic relationships with small and medium sized enterprises.
UK Rail Minister Jo Johnson said: “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 partnership received £28.1m in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England in July last year to finance the creation four rail Centres of Excellence.
This amount was subsequently increased to £92m by additional support totalling £64m, which was provided by various industrial partners.
The new Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems will be led by the University of Birmingham, while the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure will be led by the University of Southampton and the Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock will be led by the University of Huddersfield.
Network Rail is set to lead the fourth facility, which will be known as the Centre of Excellence in Testing.
University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education director professor Clive Roberts said: “UKRRIN gives universities and rail industry partners the opportunity to shape the global future of railways.
“This launch is the official beginning of an innovative partnership, and we look forward to reinforcing the UK as the world-leading centre of rail innovation.”