The UK rail sector has launched a new partnership called as UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) with eight universities to establish four Centres of Excellence worth £92m.
The new Centres of Excellence will cover rolling stock, infrastructure, digital systems and testing with a main objective to create an improved, more dependable and efficient railway system in the country.
University of Birmingham will be leading the Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems while the University of Southampton will lead the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure.
University of Huddersfield will lead the Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock, and the fourth Centre of Excellence, which will be in Testing, will be led by Network Rail with their Rail Innovation and Development Centres.
Through the UKRRIN partnership, the rail sector will gain access to purpose-built facilities and also skills across a spectrum of subjects needed to help in research, development and innovation to roll out new technologies and products.
University of Birmingham, Rail Research and Education Birmingham Centre director 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.”
With the backing of industrial partners, the four Centres of Excellence will deliver research from inception to market application for both the UK and global markets.
The new centres will help the rail industry to accelerate towards bringing in new products and technology to market by using their development, simulation and testing facilities.
UKRRIN has been created to help and create UK rail sector capacity and capability to develop and put into force new technologies. The partnership will also strive in enabling a significant shift in investment in rail innovation while increasing rail productivity and performance.
UK Rail Minister Jo Johnson said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation programme of our railways since Victorian times, delivering what passengers want – more frequent trains and quicker and more comfortable journeys.
“In doing so, we are utilising a range of new technologies across the network and Britain is now at the cutting edge of digital signalling, high speed transport and railway infrastructure.”