SIEMENS and the University of Birmingham have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a British centre of excellence for rail research and innovation alongside Siemens’ new rail assembly plant in Goole, East Yorkshire.

The centre will form part of the wider Rail Accelerator and Innovations Solutions Hub for Enterprise (RaisE) ‘rail village’ planned on a 2-hectare plot at the site where Siemens previously announced construction of a smaller research facility.

The centre should open in 2023 and aims to accelerate the adoption of technology within the rail industry. It will offer practical and virtual training, plus on-site prototyping laboratories with a focus on industry innovation, including future and advanced technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence. The RaisE hub will also spotlight decarbonisation and alternative traction technologies such as battery and hydrogen, as well as digital railway solutions.

Both Siemens and the University of Birmingham are founding partners of the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). The University of Birmingham is designated as a Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems within UKRRIN, whilst Siemens produces such technology and sells it worldwide.

The Mou follows an academic framework research collaboration agreement between the university and the supplier in February 2020, which enables the two organisations to advance the industrial application of fundamental academic research.

The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) is also working alongside Rail Alliance to establish the Supply Chain Community Hub at the RaisE site to offer a high-quality facility for start-ups and SMEs. The hub will become a regional facility for developing supply chain knowledge and capability while connecting local companies with wider industry opportunities.

“This is a development of international significance,” says Mr William Wilson, CEO of Siemens Mobility UK. “It not only delivers on the levelling up agenda but gives clear signals to the wider industry that the UK is at the forefront of railway innovation, research and development and is open for global collaboration.”