Aerial view of an artists impression of the Technology and Research Facility

Technology and Research Facility

Work is underway to seek full planning consent for the construction of buildings for Centre for Infrastructure Materials (CIM), Institute for High-Speed Rail and System Integration (IHSRSI)  on site at the Technology and Research Facility with work anticipated to commence on site this winter.

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.

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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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Train at sunrise

Land Deal for 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.”

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CIM Entrance

Large-scale research plans for engineering and technology

Leeds City Council’s Plans Panel has given the green light to support the University’s application to develop a site on the outskirts of Leeds that will host large-scale research and experimental facilities.

The facilities will provide space to collaborate with industry on major research initiatives, including large-scale experiments and testing in high speed rail and infrastructure materials.

The site will include the University’s new Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, providing Leeds City Region with a major hub for high-speed rail innovation in track infrastructure and dynamics, rolling stock technology and system integration.

The Institute offers a ‘complete system’ approach to high speed rail engineering, creating an unrivalled centre of excellence for high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing in the UK.

The proposed plans will co-locate the Institute with the confirmed home of the new HS2 depot at Gateway45 to the east of the city, which will maintain and service the brand new high speed trains.

The combination is already attracting significant interest from within the conventional and high speed rail sectors and their supply chains, ensuring the region benefits from the predicted economic growth from the HS2 project.

The site will also include the University’s Centre for Infrastructure Materials, created to support one of the key foundations of the UK’s Industrial strategy. It will develop and test the long-term impact of changing conditions on the wide range of materials used to construct built environments around the world.

The Centre’s research will examine materials’ performance from the nano-scale through to life-sized structures, including accelerating the ageing process so that performance over 50 or 100 years can be simulated in months.

Researchers will look at materials that are widely used today, such as cement, concrete and steel, as well as materials of the future, such as alternative cements and bio-based plastics which require less energy and raw materials to produce.

“The development of both Nexus and these new facilities is a big boost to the region, complementing the Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy and positioning the Leeds City Region as a global Centre for technology development and inward investment potential.”

The site will also include capacity to develop other major research areas such as robotics.

The plans complement Nexus, the new centre for innovation located on the main campus, which enables businesses from all sectors to connect with the expertise, talent and facilities at the University of Leeds.

Professor Peter Jimack, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, said: “The development of both Nexus and these new facilities is a big boost to the region, complementing the Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy and positioning the Leeds City Region as a global Centre for technology development and inward investment potential.”

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Wolfson Centre

Exciting new developments…

A number of exciting new projects have progressed significantly over the past few months, ranging from on-campus developments to collaborations across the Yorkshire region.

The most recent projects feature the development of a modular building for the Faculty of Biological Sciences, investments in Spen Farm, and the development of a major new Leeds-Bradford Centre for Applied Health Research – a joint venture between the Universities of Leeds, Bradford and Bradford Institute for Health Research (pictured).

In addition, the Leeds University Business School (LUBS) expansion is well underway along with the new Leeds Engineering and Technology Campus (LETeC).

  

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