THE UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) has awarded grants worth £30m to support the development of new railway research and testing facilities at two new sites in Britain.
The University of Birmingham, supported by Siemens Mobility, has secured a £15m grant to support the project to establish a railway research and innovation centre in Goole, Yorkshire.
The investment will enable the University of Birmingham, working with the University of Huddersfield, to establish a new Centre of Excellence for Railway Through-Life Engineering in Goole alongside Siemens’ new manufacturing facility, which is due to open in 2024.
The University of Birmingham and a consortium of Welsh universities has also been awarded £15m to establish a new Centre of Excellence for Railway Testing, Validation and Customer Experience at the Global Centre of Railway Excellence (GCRE), which is under construction in South Wales.
The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham will lead the new centre of excellence, working alongside Cardiff and Swansea universities.
GCRE is a purpose-built rail innovation centre that will provide a site for rail research, as well as the testing and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure and innovative new rail technologies. The site will provide services for both the British and European markets. There is currently no dedicated, purpose-built facility for rail infrastructure testing in Europe or a railway test loop of this scale in Britain.
The grants will complement a £60m investment by the railway industry in the research facilities, which alongside a £16m investment by the University of Birmingham, provides a £106m boost for British railway research and development.
“With this new funding our aim is to have the capabilities and tools to enable innovations to progress from a great idea more effectively to a commercial solution by reducing the cost and risk of projects through the development process,” says BCRRE director, Professor Clive Roberts. “Our focus on railway testing and validation is targeted at the whole innovation process with real-world impact at the forefront of our offering.”
The Railway Through-Life Engineering centre of excellence will be located next to the Rail Accelerator for Innovation Solutions and Enterprise (RaisE) business centre and within the major new Siemens Mobility rail village at the Goole site. The centre will provide cutting-edge facilities to support the build, service, maintenance, and modernisation of railway rolling stock with a focus on robotics, sensing, and automation.
“With this new funding our aim is to have the capabilities and tools for through life engineering from conceptual design all the way to end of life with a focus on robotics, sensing and automation, coinciding with our Centre of Excellence in Digital systems,” Roberts says.