Rail Live took place on the 19th and 20th of June this year. With representatives from across the rail industry in attendance it was a vibrant, busy and exciting event. Innovative collaboration between industry and academia featured highly across the event. With UKRRIN founding members RSSB, Siemens, Unipart, Pandrol present and UKRRIN industrial partner Porterbrook also in attendance, Rail Live 2019 showcased some of the outstanding success stories of collaboration in rail, it was pleasing to see such enthusiasm for collaborative projects across the two days of the event.
We exhibited our four Centres of Excellence on stand W44 and saw great engagement across the two days of the event, both on social media and in person. Each centre had a specialist zone where delegates were able to engage with current projects and explore UKRRIN case studies. We also had the Loughborough University Repoint demonstrator on the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure (CEI) stand, which was featured on the Rail Technology Magazine earlier this year and generated a lot of interest at the event.
We also had a three page feature in the Rail Magazine Rail Live special feature, which included interviews with key UKRRIN contributors including Jo Binstead Head of Innovation at Siemens Rolling Stock and chair of the UKRRIN Steering Committee and Professor Simon Iwnicki, Director of the Institute of Rail Research (IRR) at Huddersfield and also Director of the UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock (CERS), if you missed this special edition you can read more on the Rail magazine website here.
In the RSSB-sponsored innovation theatre we presented a range of case studies exploring some of the current research underway in our Rolling Stock, Infrastructure and Digital Systems Centres of Excellence. One of the highlights from day two was a drill down into the testing facilities available across the UKRRIN network. This provided delegates with ‘taster’ insights into each facility, and how it might potentially be used to test new ideas or concepts with a view to helping more innovations find a route to market.
It is an exciting time for the UKRRIN members in terms of facilities, with the all new National Infrastructure Laboratory nearly open for business at Southampton University the new BCRRE building opening 2020 and the IRR at Huddersfield developing a new high speed pantograph testing rig also expected to be delivered in 2020. The offering has never been more robust.
We also saw some of the incredibly promising results of a new collaboration between UKRRIN CEDs leads University of Birmingham and new industry members Porterbrook with the HydroFLEX train which has seen interest across the industry and also more broadly in the UK media with an interview with the BBC taking place on the 20th and coverage in the Daily Mail. The potential usage of hydrogen as a solution to address the decarbonisation challenge has certainly captured the public imagination. Alex Burrows, Director at Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, commented: “This partnership between the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook has been a trailblazer for academia and industry accelerating ideas into practical application on the railway. We look forward to the next phase of this project which will take this technology onto the UK railway.”
There was a lot to see outside the innovation tent too, with the collaborative Network Rail Village space, which was showcasing some of Network Rail’s exciting projects and included a demonstration from the UKRRIN Affiliate members Cranfield University who showcased their ‘inspection and repair’ Robot, NEMO which uses 3D technology to repair damage to the rails on site, you can watch a video of the robot in action here.