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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton joins UK Rail sector’s ground-breaking partnership to deliver £92m Centres of Excellence

Published: 21 February 2018
Artists impression of NIL
Artist's impression of the National Infrastructure Laboratory, University

The UK rail sector has launched the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) a ground-breaking partnership between the rail industry and eight universities including the University of Southampton to deliver four world class Centres of Excellence covering rolling stock, infrastructure, digital systems and testing. UKRRIN gives the rail industry access to purpose-built world leading facilities and skills in a range of areas to support research, development and innovation for new technologies and products.

Southampton will lead the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure - one of four to be supported by industrial partners to deliver world-leading research from inception to market application for both the UK and global markets. Joining Southampton as part of the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure are the universities of Nottingham, Sheffield, Loughborough and Heriot-Watt.

The Centre consolidates Southampton’s reputation as the UK’s leading university for rail infrastructure research. Key to the delivery of the University’s contribution will be the National Infrastructure Laboratory, currently under construction at the University’s Boldrewood Innovation Campus.

Three other centres will focus on Digital Systems (led by the University of Birmingham), Rolling Stock (led by the University of Huddersfield) and Testing (led by Network Rail with their Rail Innovation & Development Centres).

These four Centres will enable industry to deliver new products and technology to market faster using advanced purpose-built development, simulation and testing facilities.  They will also help the UK maintain its position as a technology leader in rail on the world stage.

UKRRIN has been established following a successful £28m bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England to create four rail Centres of Excellence, backed by commitment from the rail industry to invest more than £60m in research, development and innovation activities at these Centres over the next ten years. 

The Network’s key objectives are:

·         Support and build UK rail sector capacity and capability to develop, deliver and deploy new technologies;

·         Deliver a step change investment in rail innovation through a world-leading network of UK- based research and testing centres;

·         Radically increase UK rail productivity and performance by delivering transformational innovations and accelerating its uptake;

·         Develop new strategic relationships with the small – medium sized enterprise supply chain, rail industry and wider transport sector.

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