UK: A partnership of rail industry suppliers and eight universities has been awarded public funding towards a £92m programme aimed at establishing a world-leading centre of railway excellence.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is contributing £28·1m from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund to support the newly-created UK Railway Research & Innovation Network, augmenting £64m pledged by 17 industrial partners.
According to the consortium., the UKRPIF funding will help to create three linked centres of excellence, forming the ‘research heart of UKRRIN’. Aligned with the UK government’s industrial strategy, the three centres will also support delivery of the cross-industry Railway Technical Strategy.
- The Digital Systems centre at the University of Birmingham will focus on railway control and simulation, data integration and cybersecurity, condition monitoring and sensing, and improved methods for technology introduction.
- The Rolling Stock centre will be led by the University of Huddersfield in collaboration with the universities of Newcastle and Loughborough. This will focus on high value systems, whole life asset optimisation and energy management.
- The Infrastructure centre will be led by the University of Southampton in collaboration with Sheffield, Loughborough, Nottingham and Heriot-Watt universities.
As well as Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens, the industrial partners supporting the programme over a 10-year period include IBM, Unipart Rail, SMRT, British Steel, Thales, Hitachi, AECOM, Aggregate Industries, Atkins, Pandrol and Progress Rail. The initiative is also supported by a range of industry stakeholders including RSSB, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, Transport for London, Rail North and the Department for Transport.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive at the Railway Industry Association, said ‘we have been delighted to help bring our members together in an unprecedented cross industry collaboration to secure this funding which will, for the first time, provide the open to all innovation space which our industry has lacked. We look forward to UKRRIN supporting suppliers, large and small, to catalyse the developments which will help secure the future of the UK rail supply chain.’
- Prof Anson Jack from the University of Birmingham discusses the evolution of UK railway research in the April 2017 issue of Railway Gazette International magazine, which is available to subscribers in the digital archive.