PRESS RELEASE: UKRRIN Launches Call for New Centres of Excellence

12th February 2021

UKRRIN launches call for new Centres of Excellence


12 February 2021: The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), the £92 million partnership between academia and industry, has opened a call for expressions of interest to establish two new Centres of Excellence, in ‘Inclusive Passenger Experience’ and ‘Rail Economics, Policy and Operations’.


UKRRIN was established in 2018 to provide a step-change in innovation in the rail sector and accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally. Since the publication of the renewed Rail Technical Strategy, UKRRIN is looking to develop two new Centre of Excellence in:

  • Inclusive Passenger Experience, covering topics such as inclusive design; passenger digital connectivity; future passenger preferences and demand and passenger performance metrics.
  • Rail Economics, Policy and Operations, covering demand forecasting; cost modelling; pricing; regulatory policy & competition; investment appraisal & evaluation; and operations research.


The two new centres will join the current network of four Centres of Excellence already established, covering Digital Systems, Rolling Stock, Infrastructure and Testing. Academic institutions are being invited to put forward expressions of interest for establishing the Centres of Excellence, which would see them become part of a UK wide network of businesses and academia which are leading the way in delivering rail innovation.


Jo Binstead, Chair, UK Rail Research and Innovation Network, said: “It is fantastic to be launching this call for two further Centres of Excellence, which build upon UKRRIN’s current capabilities. Over the past three years – since UKRRIN’s launch – the partnership between academia and industry has shown how powerful collaboration is in supporting innovation in rail, enabling universities and businesses to get their products and services into use on the rail network.”


Sharon Odetunde, Head of Academic Partnerships, RSSB said: “RSSB welcome this proposal from UKRRIN to enhance its capabilities, and recognise its close alignment to the priorities highlighted in the Rail Technical Strategy.  Attracting customers back and reducing railway costs are the biggest railway challenges as we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic. These need the very best expertise and collaboration platform to be successfully tackled. The two new proposed UKRRIN Centres of Excellence are key to accelerate the development of the required new knowledge and innovative solutions.”


Notes to Editors

  1. The Expression of Interest form can be found here.
  2. The call for two new Centres of Excellence was launched today at the 10am session of the Rail Innovation Exhibition. Find out more here.
  3. About UKRRIN: 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. The initiative was launched in 2018 and has four Centres of Excellence, covering Digital Systems, Rolling Stock, Infrastructure and Testing, formed by a consortium of universities, in collaboration with existing industry testing and trialling facilities such as Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centres. Centres were created in Digital Systems (led by University of Birmingham), Rolling Stock (led by University of Huddersfield, in partnership with Newcastle University and Loughborough University) and Infrastructure (led by University of Southampton, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University and Heriot-Watt University). Some £92m of total funding was committed to the centres by the UK Government and leading industrial partners.

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