The Rail Supply Group (RSG), in their report, ‘Fast Track to the Future’, outlined the intention to prioritise five key technology areas and establish a network of centres of excellence across the UK. The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) is being established to bring together existing facilities and to create new centres of excellence in digital rail systems, rolling stock and infrastructure. These will fill capability gaps in the UK where investment will provide a step-change in realising innovation and accelerating new product development in the rail industry.
The University of Birmingham led a consortium of universities, partnered by leading industry supply chain partners and major UK rail industry clients (Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, TfL) to develop a £90 million proposal to create and operate the new UKRRIN Centres of Excellence. This included a bid for £28 million of capital grant funding from central government (the Higher Education Funding Council for England). Realisation of the proposal resulted in new UKRRIN facilities being available from 2018 and all the Centres of Excellence being fully operational in 2020.