Technology and Research Artist impression

New Institute will develop future transport tech

Funding has been agreed for cutting-edge experimental rail facility. On Wednesday 10 July, the Government confirmed funding to create one of the most advanced conventional and high-speed rail research facilities in the world, in Leeds.

The University of Leeds’ Institute for High-Speed Rail and System Integration will revolutionise the way new railway systems are invented, developed and brought into service.

It will be located next to the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone and forms the early phase of an ambitious plan involving local authorities and businesses to position the City Region as a UK centre for rail engineering which will generate jobs and inward investment.

At the heart of the Leeds’ Institute will be the capability to investigate rail systems as an integrated whole: measuring how train, track, power systems and signals interact as a unified system.

The cutting-edge facilities will result in research that will transform transport systems not only here in the UK but across the world.

The Government has contributed £11 million towards the capital costs of the project. A further £40 million has come from the University and rail industry partners, adding to £13 million from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal.

Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: “Improving transport for people across the North remains our priority so it is fitting that the research facilities at the University of Leeds’ Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, when developed, will revolutionise the transport system and benefit passengers by ensuring it is fit for the 21st century and beyond.

“Universities across the Northern Powerhouse have a strong tradition of being at the forefront of scientific research and innovation and that is why continued Government investment in our higher education institutions is so important.”

The Government’s support to the Leeds Institute has been allocated from the UK Research Partnership and Investment Fund (UKRPIF), administered by Research England to develop facilities that enable world-class research. Every £1 invested by the Government requires double – match funding from non-public sources such as business or charities.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said: “The real power of the Institute is that it has been designed with the rail industry, to help it address some of its big research questions. Working together with industry we will play a big role in future rail innovation.

“If you look at the Government’s Industrial Strategy, never before has it been so important for universities to work with business and industry and the UKRPIF scheme is truly catalysing those collaborations.”

The aim is for the Institute to become fully operational in 2021.

The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration (IHSRSI) will be sited on the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone at Gateway 45, near junction 45 of the M1 motorway.

SIR PETER HENDY CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “This new testing facility will be one of the most advanced in the world and will revolutionise the UK’s approach to high speed rail system design and implementation.

“Not only will it reduce the number of issues we see on the operational railway, it will help to bring economic growth and jobs to the area for many years to come. Network Rail is keen to support this bold initiative by the University of Leeds.”

Watch the fly-through video to see what the Technolgy and Research Facility will look like.

Artist impression of the new Technology and Research Facility project

Advanced technology

At the heart of the Institute will be three cutting-edge test facilities:

Vehicle testing

The rig is based on the idea of a ‘rolling road’ – and has variable track geometry which can be programmed, so it can replicate any rail journey in the world and is capable of testing performance up to 400 km/hr. The facility will allow research into new traction systems, braking, new materials and ways of increasing energy efficiency. It will accurately test rail vehicle performance under real-world conditions.

Infrastructure testing

A second test facility will simulate the forces on track, ballast and support structures, such as embankments, for both conventional and high speeds trains up to 400 km/h. It will be built in an open field rather than a laboratory, allowing ground dynamics to be more accurately simulated.

System Integration and Innovation Centre

This centre introduces the capability to investigate train, track, power systems and signals as an integrated system, to investigate how changes to one part of that system interacts with another part. It will be able to analyse data from the vehicle and infrastructure testing rigs. The centre will, for example, allow investigations to be conducted into digital signalling, power systems and electro-magnetic interference.

Professor Peter Woodward, Head of the IHSRSI, said: “The Institute will revolutionise the testing, commissioning and building of new trains, rail infrastructure and systems, both in the UK and overseas.

“The test facilities will place the Leeds City Region as a global leader in high speed railway technology development, significantly enhancing the UK’s ability to develop, test and certify new railway technologies for the commercial export market.

“The capabilities of the test facilities are of global significance and I’m very grateful for the significant support we have received from all the companies and organisations that have helped us over the last two years.

“It’s a great time to be in rail, and with the new capability that the Institute represents, the UK’s railway future is looking very bright both for industry and for passengers.”

Meeting the challenge of integrating new rail systems – the view from industry

Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said: “The Government’s commitment to deliver this final piece of funding for the Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration is a further sign of confidence in the economic benefits and boost to jobs and skills that high speed rail is delivering, not just for Leeds and the North of England, but for the UK as a whole.

“High Speed Two will operate between London and Birmingham in 2026, extending to Leeds in 2033, and this world-class rail research facility will be integral to the long term success of high speed rail in Britain.”

Bombardier Transportation designs and builds trains for the UK and further afield. Working with Hitachi, it has developed the Frecciarossa 1000 for the Italian rail network – the fastest and quietest high speed train in Europe.

Robert Davies, High Speed Train Bid Director at Bombardier Transportation, said: “The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration will be a very significant addition to the UK’s rail capability, and we are already engaging with the institute on how we can use the facilities it will offer for the trains that we design and build in Britain.”

Boost for the Leeds City Region

The Leeds City Region economic growth plan says the Institute will act as a catalyst for investment in new transport technology companies and the wider rail industry. HS2 has already said that its eastern supply depot will be next to the test facility.

The £13 million contribution towards the Institute from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal is part of a £1 billion package of Government investment delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to accelerate growth and job creation across the Leeds City Region.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration is the first stage of an economic programme that will see Leeds City Region become a UK centre for conventional and high speed rail engineering.

“The test facility will attract companies working in the railway supply chain. Combined, they have the potential to bring in thousands of skilled jobs, ensuring our region is not just at the forefront of today’s technology but is shaping the transport systems of tomorrow.”

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration has a key role to play as a world-leader in engineering excellence, new infrastructure, innovation and learning.

“Located next to the HS2 depot, it is a further significant endorsement of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone as a key economic driver for the city and the wider region.

“It also fits perfectly with the council’s Inclusive Growth Strategy, generating inward investment and jobs and offering opportunities for young people in Leeds and the region to learn cutting-edge skills in what is sure to be a leading industry supporting our future national transport network.”

Together with the Institute of Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield, the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster, the Network Rail Campus in York and the manufacturing capabilities of the Leeds City Region, there is an unprecedented economic opportunity for advanced manufacturing, engineering and education in the region and the north, to complement the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

Strengthening key industries

A total of 11 projects across England have been funded through round six of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF). A total of £221 million from the fund has attracted more than £450 million in additional investment for research. One of the objectives of UKRPIF is to strengthen the contribution of research and innovation to economic growth.

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Bodington Playing Fields

Proposed plans for Bodington Playing Fields

Discover more about the exciting development plans for Bodington Playing Fields

Members of the public, University staff and students are invited to find out more about the proposed plans for the development of some of the existing grass pitches at Bodington playing fields. The proposed plans are to provide one dual-use artificial grass pitch (football and rugby) and two new artificial grass football pitches with an ancillary pavilion building, access and car parking facilities. A new access point into the site is proposed from the A660 and has already been discussed with Leeds City Highways Department.

This scheme is part of a national programme known as Parklife, part funded by The Football Association, Premier League and Government and delivered by the Football Foundation. The development at Bodington Playing Fields is one of four such hubs planned in Leeds and forms a city-wide approach to address a shortage of good quality community football facilities and in particular to support the development of mini, youth and junior age participation.

The University will use the site as well as numerous partner clubs from the local area. The proposed new pavilion building will become a community hub and, together with the adjacent cycle track and Brownlee Centre, will reinforce this site’s contribution to sport at a local, regional and national level

We will be submitting a planning application to Leeds City Council for this scheme later this year and are providing you with the opportunity to view and comment on the scheme in advance of this submission.

View the plans and give your feedback

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Priestley External

Chancellors to open revamped Priestley Building

Inside the revamped Priestley Building following a 13-month works programme

Colleagues are invited to attend the formal opening of the Priestley Building – the new home of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at Leeds.

Chancellor, Professor Dame Jane Francis, and Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, will perform the official honours on Monday 24 June, to be followed by a drinks reception.

You can register to attend the event, which takes place from 4-5pm on Level 10 of the Priestley Building.

And not only are colleagues invited to attend the ceremony, they are also encouraged to become members of the Priestley Centre.

With a focus on solutions-based interdisciplinary climate research, the Priestley Centre facilitates collaboration both across campus and with international colleagues.

Named after inspirational Yorkshire scientist, Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), who made fundamental discoveries necessary to understand climate change, the centre has specially commissioned artwork commemorating his life and work, which will be unveiled at the opening.

The Priestley Centre’s new meeting rooms are to be named after leading climate change influencers – climate scientist, Katharine Hayhoe, and diplomat, Christiana Figueres. Katharine Hayhoe has made it her mission to effectively communicate about climate change with disengaged and doubtful groups around the world, while Christiana Figueres is regarded as one of the main architects behind the Paris Agreement, particularly for getting rich and poor nations and the young and old together to affect positive change.

Growing the Priestley Centre’s reputation

Major works at the Priestley Building during the past 13 months have seen the existing undercroft area and Level 10 of the listed structure converted into modern premises for the Priestley Centre and parts of the School of Earth and Environment (SEE).

The new space will enable the Priestley Centre to grow and build on its reputation, providing offices for academic chairs, University Academic Fellowships, PhD students and administrative support staff. The airy, open-plan design of Level 10 provides vibrant interdisciplinary meeting and tutorial space, which will be used to host academic visitors and external partners, strengthening partnerships and executive education opportunities.

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Language Centre Parkinson

Language Centre transformation underway

An innovative transformation of the Language Centre’s facilities have commenced.

Located in the historic Parkinson Building, the Centre is undergoing a significant transformation, predominantly over Levels 2 and 3, creating new state of the art teaching facilities for students and space for staff.

Students and staff will benefit from refurbished common and pastoral areas to provide a modern, attractive learning environment. A new reception/student support area and improved signage throughout the Language Centre. Improved classroom spaces with new audio visual equipment to enhance the learning experience. Sector-leading, technology enhanced innovative teaching spaces which will allow for collaborative teaching methods facilitated with technology. New breakout areas and private seating booths for group or individual study. Additional meeting and consultation rooms for 1 to 1 or group study sessions. New staff facilities including kitchen areas and breakout space. Improved lighting and ventilation to provide a more comfortable and energy efficient environment.

The project is scheduled to complete in autumn this year.

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LUBS Expansion Newlyn Building

Second Phase of the LUBS expansion is complete

Phase two of a multi-million pound project to develop new Leeds University Business School buildings is now complete. 

The Newlyn Building, on Mount Preston Street, provides central teaching space, specifically four flat-floor teaching rooms with a capacity for 100 people and four teaching rooms each with a capacity for 36 people.

Occupation of the building takes place from this month, with the Language Centre using the space for pre-sessional courses over the summer and teaching commencing in October.

Nick Scott, the Academic Lead for the £75 Million LUBS and Law Transformation programme which includes the Newlyn Building and other associated projects commented:

“We will continue to attract a high-quality, internationally diverse body of students and deliver an exceptional learning experience, comparable with other leading Schools, through providing an environment that supports students and staff to achieve their full potential, whilst maintaining our ability to enhance, innovate and adapt student education practices. The Newlyn Building is just one part of our programme that will enable us to achieve this vision.

Tamsin Barrow, Facilities Manager, Leeds University Business School added: “The Newlyn Building will provide additional Business School Teaching space. It is located closer to Western Campus which means our students have easy access to the Faculty and related spaces. We are continuing to work with Estates on our Faculty Strategy to create high quality facilities for our students to use.”

Following the completion of the Newlyn Building, Stage three of the LUBS investment project, will commence in November, with the construction of a new multi-storey teaching facility on Cloberry Street. It will be shared by LUBS, the School of Law and Central Teaching Space.  Prominent features of the building will include a new Trading Room, lecture theatres, flexible teaching areas and Behavioural Laboratories to provide more flexible and innovative ways of teaching.

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Wolfson Project

Wolfson Centre project is now complete

The £3.1m collaborative partnership between the University of Leeds, University of Bradford and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will open its doors in July.

The Centre, established beside Bradford Royal Infirmary, will bring together researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Bradford. It has been made possible thanks to a £1 million award from national charity the Wolfson Foundation, which awards grants to support and promote excellence in the fields of science, medicine, the arts and humanities, education and health and disability.

The 900m2, two-storey steel framed building, has been built and delivered by Sewell Construction. The building comprises of two large open plan office areas, a large seminar room and six smaller rooms to be used as meeting rooms or quiet rooms. It is cladded externally with brick work up to first floor and timber cladded from the first floor up to the roof. Over the construction period, 200m3 of concrete has been poured, 80 tonnes of steel erected, 15,000 bricks laid, 8 miles of electrical cable installed, 4 miles of heating / water pipework installed, 800 plasterboards used, 250 site inductions and 2,000 cups of tea consumed.

“It is a very attractive building and will make a big difference to health research, with experts coming together under one roof.

Mark Dodgson, Project Manager at Sewell Construction, said: “It has been great to work with an existing client – the University of Leeds – but also with two new clients – the University of Bradford and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“With a single team approach, we worked collaboratively to ensure the smooth running of the project for everyone involved, meeting their needs and requirements for the building.

“The site had its own logistical challenges, as we were building in the middle of a very busy staff car park, and we needed to ensure pedestrians had continued safe access to other areas of the site.

“It is a very attractive building and will make a big difference to health research, with experts coming together under one roof.

“We’re delighted to have been able to create a brand new base for these teams to continue their fantastic work.”

Len Wilson, Deputy Director for Estate Services commented: “This was an exemplar scheme both in design and construction. The successful relationship between the three partner organisations has enabled the building to be delivered on time and budget.”

Health researchers will be based at the centre. It will allow the research to be put into practice by clinical staff on site to help provide better health and social care for people across Yorkshire.  The centre will also be home to charities and organisations.

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Car Park

British Parking Awards Nomination 2019

Colleagues from the University of Leeds Car Parking team attended the British Parking Awards in March.

The awards recognise the leading examples of car park management, enforcement, design and team work, and are often noted as being the Oscars of the car parking world!

Our Car Parking team came runners up in the Intelligent Parking category. Support Services Manager, Majid Khan said: “For a Higher Education institution to be recognised in this category is a great achievement. I am proud of my team in delivering a fantastic service to our customers. Who knew that the University could reach the dizzying heights of the British Parking Awards!”

Train at the sunrise

Research and Technology Facility

University of Leeds acquires key gateway 45 plot to host large-scale research and experimental facilities.

The facility will be home to the University’s Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, to be co-located with planned HS2 Rolling Stock Depot to create a ‘thriving hub’ for future engineers

Aire Valley Land LLP, the joint venture between Harworth Group plc and Evans Property Group, has sold the 10-acre ‘North
plot’ at its Gateway 45 Leeds development to the University of Leeds to create space to collaborate with industry on major research initiatives.

Its co-location with HS2’s intended Phase 2b Rolling Stock Depot on the Gateway 45 site – a facility that will enable 24-hour maintenance of the brand new high-speed trains, set to deliver faster journeys for passengers on the East Coast mainline – is considered essential to the success of both facilities. The equipment, facilities and expertise within the Institute will create a UK centre of excellence, equipped to lead on the research and development needs for global industry partners including advanced technology development and testing, digital engineering and transport policy and economics.

Taken together, both of these facilities will make Leeds and the region a global centre for advanced rail and high speed technology, further strengthening the Leeds City Region economy. The Institute of High Speed Rail Technology and System Integration is expected to attract significant inward investment and jobs to Leeds City Region, with the Rolling Stock Depot also expected to create up to 125 skilled jobs in building on HS2’s commitment to create more than 100,000 new jobs and 2,000 apprentices.

They position Leeds City Region as a global centre for high speed rail research and development.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said:
“The new advanced testing facilities as part of the University’s Institute, alongside HS2’s new rolling stock depot, are a significant step forward for UK high speed rail capability. They position Leeds City Region as a global centre for high speed rail research and development, so we’re working closely with HS2 to ensure our facilities align with its needs and those of industry, so all sides can deliver for the country.”

The Gateway 45 is adjacent to Junction 45 of the M1 that extends to 166 acres and has outline planning consent for 2.64 million sq ft of commercial space. Aire Valley Land LLP has set spent the past four years preparing the site for development, including completing a £7.5 million infrastructure and ground works programme for the entire site using a loan facility from the Leeds City Region. Leeds City Council opened its 1,000 space Park & Ride facility at the site in June 2017, providing commuters with a 15 minute bus link to Leeds City Centre. Aire Valley will also be promoting the remaining plots for a range of commercial uses, including manufacturing and logistics.

James Pitt, Development Director at Evans Property Group, commented: “The University of Leeds is exactly the sort of high-value occupier we envisaged when we originally masterplanned Gateway 45. AVL LLP’s focus now is supporting the University to get on-site as quickly as possible in order for the benefits of their world-class facility to rapidly come forward.”

Nexus Atrium

Nexus is open for business

In August 2016, work began on the Nexus project. A £38M pound investment to connect business to the expertise and talent at the University of Leeds.

Since then you may have watched our live feed of the Nexus building site, or seen one of our updates or more recently walked past it along Discovery Way. Now you can see inside!

Nexus has an exhibition space, a business lounge, 120-seat lecture theatre, four seminar spaces, 12 meeting rooms, 12 lab spaces, 8 of which are category 2, 60 offices spaces and a Great Food at Leeds café: Affine! Already they have secured a major tenant, Thought Beanie, and with facilities like this, we expect to attract more businesses.

For more information or to speak to a member of the team visit

Take a look at the time-lapse below to see the construction of Nexus.



Social Shutdown

We asked and you switched off!

Bank Holiday Shutdown

Every university shut down period we ask you to switch off all unnecessary lights and equipment and ensure all windows are closed to help us meet our carbon reduction targets and reduce costs to the university.

On Easter Sunday 2019 the university managed to consume 1,833 kWh less electricity than on Easter Sunday the previous year. That reduction alone is enough energy to power the Parkinson Building for a whole 24 hours on a normal working day!

With the nice weather and another Bank holiday fast approaching, you can help by making sure that windows are not open with the air conditioning running and before you leave for the 4 day bank holiday weekend:

  • Switch off lights and close all windows
  • Ensure that as much lab equipment as possible is turned off before you leave – drying cabinets and incubators etc.
  • Check IT equipment including screens and projectors

We understand that some equipment is required to maintain safety or is being used for research purposes and therefore needs to remain on. However, any equipment that is not affected by this, and can be turned off, will help us meet our carbon reduction targets and reduce costs to the University.

Leaving the air conditioning on in an office for one extra hour a day uses enough energy in a month to power a television continuously for a year! And by opening a window when the air conditioning is already running affects the cooling efficiency and puts additional stress on the machine as the open window lets the warm air inside!

Thank you for your support!

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