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The University of Southampton

Southampton to play leading role in developing HS2 railway infrastructure

Published: 8 September 2020
HS2 artists' concept

The University of Southampton’s world-leading expertise and facilities in railway infrastructure will make a major contribution to a ground-breaking agreement at the forefront of innovation in the rail sector.

The agreement between HS2 Ltd and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) will enable the company and its partners to accelerate new technologies from research into market applications globally through the country’s leading railway research centres including the University of Southampton, the University of Birmingham and the University of Huddersfield.

The agreement will enable HS2 Ltd to be at the forefront of innovation in the rail sector, and help accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally.

Birmingham, which will lead on the development of Digital Systems, will coordinate UKRRIN activities in support of HS2 Ltd and support R&D from Southampton, leading on Infrastructure, and Huddersfield, leading on Rolling Stock.

Together, the three institutions represent a research powerhouse to underpin innovation and enhancements to railways.

“Rail is the most efficient form of mechanised land transport in terms of capacity and energy use, making a strong contribution to the UK’s zero carbon targets,” said Professor William Powrie, who leads the Infrastructure Centre of Excellence in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton. “We are delighted to work with HS2 and its partners to enable them to construct, operate and maintain an affordable, reliable, high-capacity railway and minimise carbon committed in construction.”

Southampton was selected by the rail industry in 2017 to lead the UKRRIN Infrastructure Centre of Excellence, partnered by Nottingham, Sheffield, Loughborough and Heriot-Watt universities.  The University’s showcase facilities include the National Infrastructure Laboratory, opened last year by Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, which features a specific focus on railway infrastructure thanks to Southampton’s team of academics and government investment in specialist equipment.

Professor Powrie has led multi-University collaborations for railway infrastructure research in the UK since 2003, including recent work for HS2. Amongst the wider team are leading experts in the measurement and monitoring of track performance, including experience of HS1 to ensure designs from HS2 learn from the UK’s only existing high speed line.

Howard Mitchell, Head of Innovation for HS2 said: “HS2 is a major opportunity for British academia and UK plc to come together and meet the challenge of delivering what is a huge investment in the country’s future. The programme’s scale and longevity creates the right conditions to develop solutions for High Speed 2 and also the wider rail industry – both of which are crucial in helping Britain to decarbonise.”


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