Network Rail plans to harness the expertise of researchers at the University of Huddersfield in order to solve some of the most pressing issues facing modern railways, such as reliability of electric power supplies and how to maximise safety. Sir Peter Hendy, who chairs Network Rail – the public body that owns and manages most of the network in England, Scotland and Wales – paid a special visit to the University’s Institute of Railway Research (IRR).
It has a suite of labs and test facilities and has recently been selected to lead UK Rail Research and Innovation Network’s £28m Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock.
In addition to Sir Peter, senior members of Network Rail’s Safety, Technical and Engineering Directorate have also inspected the Institute’s facilities and talks have now been held on research and development collaboration.
As a result, the IRR has signed an agreement to join Network Rail’s University Strategic Partnership programme and will start work on several projects.
These include pantograph and overhead line interaction dynamics, with the aim of reducing the incidence and consequence of failures to vehicle power collection systems.
There will also be research into data analytics for switch and crossing predictive maintenance techniques, plus advanced text-based analysis of close-call incident reports, leading to understanding of risks to which rail workers and passengers are exposed.
Dr Paul Allen, who is leading the partnership on behalf of the Institute, said: “We have worked with many facets of Network Rail over a number of years and are therefore delighted to have formalised our working relationship and positioned the Institute to deliver research work on a strategic level both through this new partnership and in the longer term through UKRRIN.”