The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has chosen the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as the home of its new National University Rail Centre of Excellence (NURCoE). FRA has awarded $5m towards its creation from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The FRA funding will cover half of the cost of establishing and operating the centre, while the rest of the investment needed will be sourced from the nine universities that make up the consortium of the NURCoE. 

FRA Administrator Amit Bose said: “The establishment of the NURCoE is a testament to the dedication and expertise of these institutions. This initiative exemplifies our ongoing commitment to building a safer, more efficient and sustainable rail network for the benefit of all Americans.” 

The centre will operate for three years, with research covering a wide range of topics such as the development of rolling stock, rail infrastructure enhancements, grade crossing safety improvements and energy efficiency. 

Alongside UIUC, the universities of Delaware, Kansas State, Michigan Technology, Morgan State, Rutgers, Tuskegee and Texas are also in the consortium. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he had visited the UIUC earlier in the year to see the work already taking place to improve rail safety and was proud to invest in “pioneering research and innovation to make railroads safer across the country”.

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Federal funding of the centre was first announced in May of this year when the FRA issued a notice of funding opportunity calling for institutions that had shown a strong past performance in rail research and education. 

News of the centre comes after it was announced that $1.4bn in funds from the infrastructure law would be used by the FRA to invest in 70 projects around the US to improve rail safety and the rail supply chain.