19 Sep 2017 £92 Million UK Research Partnership to Get Rail Technology Strategy Rolling – Martyn Ingram, Group Director
We have worked closely with the rail industry for many decades, supplying state of the art housings and enclosures to keep their critical equipment safe.
So, the health, vitality and sustainability of our rail industry are of great interest to us. Britain’s rail industry has always borne the brunt of the public’s criticism – the only thing we complain about more is perhaps the weather.
Rail has always been a complex industry dealing with multiple pressures - never more so than it is now. I am a big supporter of our rail systems but no-one can deny they need investment, fresh ideas and ambitious thinking to reinvigorate them.
I am greatly encouraged by the creation of the UK Railway Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), a new partnership between the rail supply industry and a consortium of seven universities, to create centres of excellence focusing on digital systems, rolling stock, and infrastructure.
Backed by £92 million from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and from industrial big hitters like British Steel,Alstom, Bombardier Transport and Siemens, and involving Sheffield, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Birmingham and other universities, it seems the will is there to re-charge the UK’s rail industry.
There has, of course, been disappointing news on the rail front for regions like Wales and the North, with the scrapping of electrification schemes here. Meanwhile, the HS2 development continues to draw noisy criticism. If not tumultuous, these are noisy times politically and economically, and I don’t envy anyone who is charged with making the big decisions that will affect the way our country works for the forseeable future.
However, some nettles must be grasped no matter what level of political hubbub or media chatter they create. And ensuring we have a rail network that functions well, that provides for the needs of the populace, that is affordable, sustainable, as environmentally sound as it can be, and that is an asset to our economy is an issue we cannot afford to dodge, no matter how difficult it might be to deliver to everyone’s satisfaction.
I am heartened by the launch of this project and I hope it will offer a space for new thinking, for saying the previously unsaid, for re-imagining the way we travel and for presenting a vision of travel to us in a way that excites ambition and enthusiasm, rather than naysaying and resistance.