Landmark agreement will give HS2 Ltd. access to world leading knowledge and research facilities.
The agreement, signed on 14 August, gives HS2 access to the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) comprised of the leading railway research centres based in UK universities. This puts HS2 at the forefront of innovation in the sector and will accelerate the use of new technologies and products from the research sector into global market applications.
Centres of Excellence
The University of Birmingham will take a coordinating role, supporting R&D across the core UKRRIN academic centres of excellence while also taking the lead on digital systems. The University of Southampton will lead on infrastructure and the University of Huddersfield on rolling stock.
The first work package will focus on the use of simulation models to study and improve the performance of expansion joints typically used in building high speed track.
Howard Mitchell, Head of Innovation Projects at HS2, called the agreement a major opportunity for the private sector and British academia to come together and deliver on the biggest infrastructure project in the country. Mitchell also acknowledged that HS2 was a huge investment in the country's future and that the partnership was ideally placed to meet the challenges of developing solutions for the HS2 project and the railways as a whole.
Best of British
Decarbonisation is one of the critical challenges facing the industry as a whole and alongside the skills showcase that HS2 represents, HS2 is expected to deliver on the 3C's: increasing the capacity of the railway network as a whole, offering better connectivity for every region of Britain and creating a low carbon alternative form of transport.
The partnership with UKRRIN is an example of the commitment to engineering excellence and innovation that the HS2 project represents.
The Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) Professor Clive Roberts said ""BCRRE works very closely with our industry partners to develop and deploy world-leading technologies onto the railway." He cited high speed rail as vital to the future of innovation across the rail network in the UK and said the centre was delighted to be playing a part in the future by joining forces with HS2.
Professor Stephen Jarvis, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, pointed to the acceleration in advances that is expected to come out of the agreement. These are expected to improve the UK railways network as a whole by decreasing its carbon footprint while increasing capacity. "Through initiatives like this we can put the UK at the forefront of rail innovation and play our part in restoring the UK's economy," he said.
HS2 has also launched part two of its Innovation Accelerator recruitment programme to bring on board small companies who can focus on customer experience and optimising digital solutions. They will join the successful stage one candidates in work on productivity, the circular economy and the environment. The application portal opened on 17 August and will remain open for one month.