£92m to make UK global centre of railway excellence

A partnership between industry and a consortium of eight universities has secured almost £100m to fund research aimed at establishing the UK as a world-leading centre of railway excellence.

Railway Excellence - One of the three centres, located at the University of Birmingham, will focus on railway control and simulation, data integration and cybersecurity, condition monitoring and sensing – image courtesy of University of Birmingham.
One of the three centres, located at the University of Birmingham, will focus on railway control and simulation, data integration and cybersecurity, condition monitoring and sensing – image courtesy of University of Birmingham.

The partnership – part of the newly-created UK Railway Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) – has won £28.1m funding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

It follows a bid successfully led by the University of Birmingham. The funding will be boosted by £64m of support from 17 industrial partners, including major players: Alstom, Siemens and Bombardier Transportation.

The UKRPIF funding will be used to create three linked world-class centres of excellence, forming the research heart of UKRRIN, which will focus on:

  • Digital Systems – located at the University of Birmingham, it will focus on railway control and simulation, data integration and cybersecurity, condition monitoring and sensing, and improved methods for technology introduction.
  • Rolling Stock – led by the University of Huddersfield in collaboration with the University of Newcastle and Loughborough University, it will focus on high value rolling stock systems, whole life asset optimisation and through-life management, and energy management.
  • Infrastructure – led by the University of Southampton in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and Heriot-Watt University.

These centres of excellence, together with existing UK Rail Test Centres, are the foundation of UKRRIN, bringing together the UK rail supply industry and academia to undertake world-leading research and innovation in rail.

The UKRRIN will support delivery of the ambitious Rail Technical Strategy and is aligned with the aims of the government’s industrial strategy.

With these world-class centres of excellence, the UK rail supply industry will be able to develop world-leading new technologies and products for trains, railway systems and infrastructure that will deliver a better, more reliable and efficient railway.

Passengers are thought to directly benefit from the research via improved technology; a better infrastructure with increased reliability that can be more effectively managed; and new digital signalling systems that will allow additional trains to run on the network. The High Speed 2 project is also expected to be an early beneficiary,