Universities and industry unite in £92 million UK railway transformation

All change

A partnership between the rail supply industry and a consortium of eight universities has secured £92 million to fund research aimed at establishing the UK as a world-leading centre of railway excellence.

The funding follows a successful bid led University of Birmingham. The partnership – part of the newly-created UK Railway Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) – has won £28.1 million funding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The funding will be boosted by £64 million of support from 17 industrial partners including Alstom, Siemens and Bombardier Transportation. These partners will support the project over a 10-year period.

Centres of Excellence

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, Rolling Stock and Infrastructure. The centre for Digital Systems will be located at the University of Birmingham and will focus on railway control and simulation, data integration and cybersecurity, condition monitoring and sensing, and improved methods for technology introduction. 

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. Industry and passengers alike will directly benefit from the research leading to 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. 

Shaping the future of railways

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, said:

‘These are exciting times for railways, which have become integral to how people live and economies grow in the 21st Century. UKRRIN gives British universities and rail industry partners the opportunity to shape the global future of railways.’

‘The University of Birmingham is renowned for its rail research, and innovations in railway control, command, and communication will be the key to significantly improve the quality of railway services. We’re looking forward to working with research and industry partners across the world to deliver innovation that establishes the UK as a world-leading centre of rail excellence.’

Graham Hopkins, Group Safety, Technical and Engineering Director at Network Rail and the said:

‘By working together in UKRRIN, researchers and industry partners can deliver technical transformations to help deliver a more cost effective, customer and carbon friendly railway that delivers more capacity safely.’


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