The 50km Channel Tunnel was used by around 120,000 trains in 2014, or an average of 320 trains per day, including 800m-long passenger car and lorry shuttles which can weigh up to 2400 tonnes, Eurostar high-speed trains, and railfreight trains. At peak times trains operate through the tunnel every three minutes, making the route one of the most heavily used railways in the world.

The partnership with Railenium, which will commence this year, will trial innovations developed by the research consortium on this intensively used infrastructure. As a result manufacturers will have the opportunity to secure certification more quickly because they will be able to complete tests up to five-times faster than using the conventional network.

Among the trials that will take place are measurement of track behaviour when laid on ballast and concrete as well as measurements of track and equipment durability. There will also be opportunities to test different loads at different speeds and options to develop preventative maintenance and automatic repair procedures.