UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN)


A network of Centres supporting new innovation in rail transport.


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. This is being driven by a powerful collaboration between industry, led by the industry's Technical Leadership Group (TLG) and academia, led by the Universities of Birmingham, Huddersfield and Southampton. The new centres 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.


Digital Systems Innovation Centre


The Digital Systems Innovation Centre (DSIC) at the University of Birmingham will bring together existing academic and industry capabilities. It will innovate in new areas, supporting transformational change in rail technology across the globe.


The DSIC will build on the expertise of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and the UK's industrial base to deliver a step change in rail systems capability. It will secure a world-leading position in the sector and deliver jobs, growth and inward investment nationally and internationally. Information on this website explains what it will do, what it will look like, some of the existing capabilities that are available to the industry at the University of Birmingham, and finally, how to engage and support the Centre in the future.

What will the Centre do?


The Centre will focus on all aspects of Digital Railway Innovation, providing a system-wide approach to transforming research, development and innovation. Initial areas of technological focus will include:


Railway control and operations simulation

  • Simulator development
  • Traffic management
  • System optimisation
  • Simulation and testing for integration
  • Next generation(s) of control systems


Data integration and cyber security

  • Controlled access to national and international data
  • Data modelling and architecture
  • Integration of operations and customer-facing systems
  • Security for all data systems


Condition monitoring and sensing

  • Next generations of smart condition monitoring, linked up with other systems


Technology introduction processes

  • Road-mapping of benefit realisation
  • Alignment of stakeholders for rapid technology adoption
  • Identification of benefits and structuring stakeholder incentives
  • System integration testing to speed up approval

What will you see when you step inside and connect with the Centre?






The exact form and function of the Centre will be shaped by the industry partners. Engagement with industry to date has highlighted particular needs and at least four types of activity or space within the centre are currently anticipated:


  1. An entrance hall with technology demonstrators and visualisations showing the digital definition of the UK network at different scales, as well as seminar and meeting rooms.
  2. Multi-disciplinary project labs addressing the big challenges - with clients sharing problems and researchers defining potential conceptual solutions (some open and collaborative, some behind confidential walls).
  3. Project labs developing systems to test in both virtual and real environments, and providing verification and validation
  4. 'Route to market' activity which is more process based, but uses outputs from (c) to ensure they make it into the real world through procurement/contracts/regulatory routes - providing the opportunity to explore innovatice ways of addressing these challenges.

Contact us


For further information or to express interest in the Digital Systems Innovation Centre please contact:


Clive Roberts
Director, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education,
University of Birmingham B15 2TT,
Tel: 0121 414 4306


For further information on the UK Rail Research Innovation Network please contact:


Richard Fox
Business Engagement Partner
University of Birmingham
Tel: 0121 414 8921

Rolling Stock Innovation Centre


The Rolling Stock Innovation Centre aims to meet the current and future demands of the GB rail industry for research and innovation to support the next generation of railway vehicles. The Centre will link with other centres in the UKRRIN Network to provide a 'one stop shop' for all rolling stock development.


The Centre will be integrated into the UKRRIN and will focus on the major themes of Reduced Whole Life Cost vehicles and Future Low Energy vehicles.

The Remit of the Centre


The work of the Centre will support the 'Four Cs' of the Rail Technical Strategy. In particular the research will lead to innovations that will reduce cost and carbon emissions. The Centre will also support research in several key areas of the RSG 'Fast Track to the Future' vision including contributions to three of the five key technology areas.


High value rolling stock systems

  • Lightweighting
  • Propulsion systems


Whole life asset optimisation and through life management

  • Remote condition monitoring
  • Asset management systems
  • Simulation and synthetics


Energy management

  • Energy storage
  • Energy systems management

What will you see when you step inside and connect with the Centre?






The detailed activities undertaken by the Centre will be shaped by the needs of the industry partners. The following interconnected facilities will provide world-class research infrastructure that has the flexibility to supprt emerging research priorities in the following key areas:


  1. The structural integrity and crashworthiness facility: comprising equipment able to test structures at the component level under both static and dynamic multi-axial loads, to simulate service conditions.
  2. The Pantograph Interaction Dynamics and Aerodynamics Testing Facility: the Centre will provide a unique full-scale pantograph dynamic test rig with hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) facility, as well as a large-scale cross-section climatic wind tunnel.
  3. The traction and braking facility: the University of Huddersfield has a full-scale bogie rolling contact, adhesion and braking test rig. This rig will be further expanded to add capability to test drivetrain and gearbox sub-systems.

Contact us


For further information or to express interest in the Rolling Stock Innovation Centre please contact:


Simon Iwnicki
Director of the Institute of Railway Research
University of Huddersfield, Queensgate,
Huddersfield, HD1 3DH
Tel: 01484 473 731
Mobile: 07581 415 992


For further information on the UK Rail Research Innovation Network please contact:


Richard Fox
Business Engagement Partner
University of Birmingham
Tel: 0121 414 8921

Infrastructure Innovation Centre


The Infrastructure Innovation Centre, led by the University of Southampton, will host collaborative research and development by academic and industry partners. It will link the primary railway infrastructure research centres, providing industry with one-stop access leading to facilities around the UK to accelerate improvements from research into practice.


The centre will integrate the specialist centres for railway infrastructure research in the UK with the industrial base and network operators. It will provide straightforward access leading researchers and facilities, to generate practical improvements in performance and whole-life cost.

The Remit of the Centre


The Centre will focus on the Rail Technical Strategy's vision for infrastructure. Research will be applied to develop a reliable and resilient seven-day railway with world-class asset management, increased capacity and reduced delays. The vision will be to optimise the whole-life, whole-system cost of infrastructure, cosnidering investment, carbon and social factors such as noise and vibration.


Distributed facilities

  • The Centre combines and builds on the expertise of the UK's leading universities in railway infrastructure, led by the University of Southampton. The research partner for a project or programme can be selected after considering location, expertise and capacity.
  • The Centre is closely linked to the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities, a consortium of 14 UK universities undertaking world-leading research.


Centre locations

  • University of Southampton (lead)
  • Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
  • University of Loughborough
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield


Expertise and facilities

  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Track systems
  • Metallurgy, tribology and rail/wheel interface
  • Noise and vibration
  • Asset management
  • Risk and reliability
  • Resilience engineering
  • Economic modelling
  • Hardware-in-the-loop

What will you see when you step inside and connect with the Centre?






You will find cutting-edge laboratory and modelling facilites, where leading experts and top companies work together to apply sound science to real-world problems.


  1. The National Infrastructure Laboratory at Southampton, a new £46 million facility currently under construction, is a major national resource for research into geomechanics and soil mechanics. Existing equipment includes facilities for accelerated testing of full-scale sleeper/pad/ballast/subgrade combinations, fully equipped geotechnical laboratories and advanced instrumentation and measurement techniques for use in the laboratory and on the live railway.
  2. Track infrastructure research centre, Edinburgh. Heriot Watt University focuses on testing track infrastructure, using leading experimental facilities and numerical modelling. key facilities are a multi-sleeper full-scale cyclic testing rig for accelerated testing of railway track systems, and the UK's largest true triaxial test apparatus.
  3. Railway Innovation and Technology Centre at Sheffield undertakes research into rail materials and support; new materials and friction management at the rail-wheel interface; and power supply infrastructure, primarily overhead line dynamics, design and maintenance.

Contact us


For further information or to express interest in the Infrastructure Innovation Centre please contact:


Rod Anderson
Rail Research Coordinator
University of Southampton,
Engineering and the Envornoment,
University Road,
Southampton, SO17 1BJ
Tel: 023 8059 3960
Mobile: 07733 294 221


For further information on the UK Rail Research Innovation Network please contact:


Richard Fox
Business Engagement Partner
University of Birmingham
Tel: 0121 414 8921