Funding agreed for cutting-edge experimental rail facility in Leeds

The images show an artist’s impression of the IHSRSI. Please note the plans are subject to detailed planning approval. Credit: Atkins, artist’s impression.

The Government has confirmed funding to create one of the most advanced conventional and high speed rail research facilities in the world, in Leeds.

The University of Leeds’ Institute for High Speed Rail and
System Integration will revolutionise the way new railway systems are invented,
developed and brought into service.

It will be located next to the Leeds City Region Enterprise
Zone and forms the early phase of an ambitious plan involving local authorities
and businesses to position the City Region as a UK centre for rail engineering
which will generate jobs and inward investment.

At the heart of the Leeds’ Institute will be the capability
to investigate rail systems as an integrated whole: measuring how train, track,
power systems and signals interact as a unified system.

The funding agreed for cutting-edge experimental rail facility in Leeds will result in research that will transform transport systems not only here in the UK but across the world.

The Government has contributed £11 million towards the capital costs
of the project. A further £40 million has come from the University and rail
industry partners, adding to £13 million from the Leeds City Region Local
Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal.

Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said:

“Improving transport for people across the North remains our
priority so it is fitting that the research facilities at the University of
Leeds’ Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, when developed,
will revolutionise the transport system and benefit passengers by ensuring it
is fit for the 21st century and beyond.

“Universities across the Northern Powerhouse have a strong
tradition of being at the forefront of scientific research and innovation and
that is why continued Government investment in our higher education
institutions is so important.”

The Government’s support to the Leeds Institute has been
allocated from the UK Research Partnership and Investment Fund (UKRPIF),
administered by Research England to develop facilities that enable world-class
research. Every £1 invested by the Government requires double – match funding
from non-public sources such as business or charities.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said: “The real power of the Institute is that it has been designed with the rail industry, to help it address some of its big research questions. Working together with industry we will play a big role in future rail innovation.

“If you look at the Government’s Industrial Strategy, never
before has it been so important for universities to work with business and
industry and the UKRPIF scheme is truly catalysing those collaborations.” 

The aim is for the Institute to become fully operational in 2021.

The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration (IHSRSI)
will be sited on the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone at Gateway 45, near junction
45 of the M1 motorway.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “This new testing facility will be one of the most advanced in the world and will revolutionise the UK’s approach to high speed rail system design and implementation.

“Not only will it reduce the number of issues we see on the
operational railway, it will help to bring economic growth and jobs to the area
for many years to come. Network Rail is keen to support this bold initiative by
the University of Leeds.”

The images show an artist’s impression of the IHSRSI. Please note the plans are subject to detailed planning approval. Credit: Atkins, artist’s impression.

Advanced technology

At the heart of the Institute will be three cutting-edge
test facilities:

Vehicle testing

The rig is based on the idea of a ‘rolling road’ – and has
variable track geometry which can be programmed, so it can replicate any rail
journey in the world and is capable of testing performance up to 400 km/hr. The
facility will allow research into new traction systems, braking, new materials
and ways of increasing energy efficiency. It will accurately test rail vehicle
performance under real-world conditions.

Infrastructure testing

A second test facility will simulate the forces on track, ballast
and support structures, such as embankments, for both conventional and high
speeds trains up to 400 km/h. It will be built in an open field rather than a
laboratory, allowing ground dynamics to be more accurately simulated.

System Integration and
Innovation Centre

This centre introduces the capability to investigate train,
track, power systems and signals as an integrated system, to investigate how
changes to one part of that system interacts with another part. It will be able
to analyse data from the vehicle and infrastructure testing rigs. The centre
will, for example, allow investigations to be conducted into digital
signalling, power systems and electro-magnetic interference.

Professor Peter Woodward, Head of the IHSRSI, said: “The Institute will revolutionise the testing, commissioning and building of new trains, rail infrastructure and systems, both in the UK and overseas.

“The test facilities will place the Leeds City Region as a
global leader in high speed railway technology development, significantly
enhancing the UK’s ability to develop, test and certify new railway
technologies for the commercial export market.

“The capabilities of the test facilities are of global
significance and I’m very grateful for the significant support we have received
from all the companies and organisations that have helped us over the last two
years.

“It’s a great time to be in rail, and with the new
capability that the Institute represents, the UK’s railway future is looking
very bright both for industry and for passengers.”

Meeting
the challenge of integrating new rail systems – the view from industry

Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said:“The Government’s commitment to deliver this final piece of funding for the Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration is a further sign of confidence in the economic benefits and boost to jobs and skills that high speed rail is delivering, not just for Leeds and the North of England, but for the UK as a whole.

“High Speed Two will operate between London and Birmingham in 2026, extending to Leeds in 2033, and this world-class rail research facility will be integral to the long term success of high speed rail in Britain.”


Also on HS2:


Bombardier Transportation designs and builds trains for the
UK and further afield. Working with Hitachi, it has developed the Frecciarossa
1000 for the Italian rail network – the fastest and quietest high speed train
in Europe.

Robert Davies, High Speed Train Bid Director at Bombardier Transportation, said: “The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration will be a very significant addition to the UK’s rail capability, and we are already engaging with the institute on how we can use the facilities it will offer for the trains that we design and build in Britain.”

Boost for the Leeds City Region

The Leeds City Region economic growth plan says the Institute
will act as a catalyst for investment in new transport technology companies and
the wider rail industry. HS2 has already said that its eastern supply depot will
be next to the test facility.

The £13 million contribution towards the Institute from the Leeds
City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal is part of a £1 billion
package of Government investment delivered in partnership with the West
Yorkshire Combined Authority to accelerate growth and job creation across the Leeds
City Region.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration is the first stage of an economic programme that will see Leeds City Region become a UK centre for conventional and high speed rail engineering.

“The test
facility will attract companies working in the railway supply chain. Combined,
they have the potential to bring in thousands of skilled jobs, ensuring our
region is not just at the forefront of today’s technology but is shaping the
transport systems of tomorrow.”

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration has a key role to play as a world-leader in engineering excellence, new infrastructure, innovation and learning.

“Located next to the HS2 depot, it is a further significant endorsement
of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone as a key economic driver for the city
and the wider region.

“It also fits perfectly with the council’s Inclusive Growth Strategy,
generating inward investment and jobs and offering opportunities for young
people in Leeds and the region to learn cutting-edge skills in what is sure to
be a leading industry supporting our future national transport network.”

Together with the Institute of
Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield, the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster, the Network
Rail Campus in York and the manufacturing capabilities of the Leeds City
Region, there is an unprecedented economic opportunity for advanced
manufacturing, engineering and education in the region and the north, to
complement the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

Strengthening key industries

A total of 11 projects across England have been funded
through round six of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF). A
total of £221 million from the fund has attracted more than £450 million in
additional investment for research. One of the objectives of UKRPIF is to
strengthen the contribution of research and innovation to economic growth.

The Institute’s website goes live when the embargo lifts at
16.15 and can be found at: www.leeds.ac.uk/highspeedrail
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