Why is UKRRIN needed?

The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) is designed to create powerful collaboration between academia and industry, aiming to provide a step-change in innovation in the sector and accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally.

What is UKRRIN?

The initiative was built on the development of three Centres of Excellence formed by a consortium of universities, in collaboration with existing industry testing and trialling facilities and Network Rail. Some £92m of total funding was committed to the centres by the UK Government and leading industrial partners.

Centres have been created in:


  • Digital Systems (led by University of Birmingham, in partnership with Lancaster University, Imperial College London, Swansea University, University of Hull and University of Derby),


  • Rolling Stock (led by University of Huddersfield, in partnership with Newcastle University, Loughborough University, University of Cambridge, University of Bristol, Brunel University and University of Nottingham) and


  • Infrastructure (led by University of Southampton, in partnership with University of Nottingham, University of Sheffield, Loughborough University , Heriot-Watt University and Swansea University).

The network now also has a number of affiliate members offering cross-cutting expertise and facilities to the network as a whole:

  • Cranfield University
  • University of Leeds
  • University College London (UCL)

What does it do?

UKRRIN offers 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. The centres are supported by industrial partners to deliver world-leading research from inception to market application for both the UK and global markets. The Centres of Excellence provide the ability to deliver new products and technology to market faster, using advanced purpose-built simulation and testing facilities. The centres also help the UK maintain its position as a technology leader in rail on the world stage.

Key aims and objectives

  • 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

Network Coordination

The UKRRIN Coordinating Hub provides is the opportunities for academia, suppliers, technology inventors and SME’s to have access to, and work with, industry experts to help them understand the route to market for new technology, products and systems.

Key Functions of a Coordinating Hub

  • Bridging Services

    Be a catalyst for securing additional funding by linking those who need support with their innovation efforts to those who can help.

  • Centre Promotion

    Promote centre expertise, capabilities and facilities to suppliers, rail companies, academic institutions and entrepreneurs.

  • Industry Links

    Work closely with key industry stakeholders and groups.

    Provide direction through the Rail Technical Strategy delivery plan on innovation priority.

  • Route to Market

    Provide advice on how to develop and commercialise products in the rail context including testing, commercial business cases, and IP considerations.

  • Capability Mapping

    Provide a map of facilities and capabilities within the centres and the wider network relevant to the rail industry.

Who is Involved?

Centre of Excellence in Digital Systems

  • Imperial College London
  • Swansea
  • Hull
  • Derby
  • Birmingham
  • Cranfield University
  • Lancaster university

Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock

  • Brunel
  • new-castle-university
  • university-of-huddersfield
  • Cranfield University
  • notttingham
  • loughborogh-university
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge

Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure

  • Swansea
  • notttingham
  • loughborough-univercity
  • heriot-watt
  • sheffield
  • university- southmpton

Centre of Excellence in Testing

  • Network Rail
  • TfL

Founding Members

  • siemens
  • smrt
  • rssb
  • unipart rail
  • british steel
  • Railway Industry Association
  • progress rail
  • thales
  • hitachi
  • atkins
  • pandrol

UKRRIN Partners

  • Knorr-Bremse
  • Furrer and Frey
  • Wordline

Affiliate Members

  • Cranfield University
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