A groundbreaking partnership between universities and the rail industry has been launched in the form of the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).
The partnership will be hugely beneficial to the UK rail industry because it will provide purpose built facilities where skills, research and innovation bring about new technologies and products.
UKRRIN is a partnership between eight universities and the rail industry which will see the delivery of four centres of excellence covering infrastructure, rolling stock, digital systems and testing.
Established thanks to a £28 million bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England for the creation of these centres of excellence, UKRRIN will support the whole sector by helping to deliver new technologies.
The partnership – backed by in excess of £60 million of investment from the sector to research, develop and innovate in the next 10 years at these four centres of excellence – will help to increase rail productivity by delivering innovations and accelerating its uptake.
Strategic relationships with the SME supply chain will be developed thanks to UKRRIN, which will benefit the wider transport sector.
The Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems will be led by the University of Birmingham; the University of Southampton will lead the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure, in partnership with four other universities.
A Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock will be led by the University of Huddersfield, in partnership with two other universities, while the fourth Centre of Excellence in Testing is led by Network Rail.
The likes of Alstom, Siemens and Bombardier have helped to fund UKRRIN, along with the Higher Education Funding Council, and following its launch, Professor Clive Roberts, Director of the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education at the University of Birmingham, explained the benefits of the partnership.
He said: “The launch of UKRRIN marks a groundbreaking partnership for innovation in UK rail and a step change in industrial research investment.
“By bringing together leading UK universities and industry, we can ensure that developments being made through academic research can be commercialised to deliver transformative changes across our rail network.”