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Centre for Innovation in Rail to launch with £4.5m advanced test facility

08 January 2016

Co-funded by the Regional Growth Fund, the Institute of Railway Research (IRR) at the University of Huddersfield is currently in the process of delivering its £22m Centre for Innovation in Rail (CIR).

Advised and supported by an industry led Steering Group comprising the CIR’s project partners Unipart Rail, Omnicom Engineering and the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSARE) and current stakeholder representation from Network Rail and the Rail Industry Association (RIA), the CIR aims to drive the adoption of new technologies and innovation and embed these in the railway industry.

“With a mission to link innovative SME’s and larger industrial partners with academia, the CIR will offer a multitude of services, from Innovation support and blue-skies industrial research to product testing and trialling," says Dr Paul Allen, Prinicipal Enterpise Fellow and Assistant Director of the IRR. "The centre’s services and unique facilities aim to develop into a one-stop shop for railway innovators and technology providers looking to enter the rail market”.

The centre will also provide opportunities to develop and validate new products ready for rail market applications.

During the autumn of 2016 the CIR will hold its official launch and will host an opening event for its new £4.5M state-of the-art laboratory facility. The advanced test equipment currently being installed will support both the CIR and the wider railway research activities of the IRR.

The laboratory will significantly boost fundamental research output at the university, and within the UK; advancing the science of wheel-rail interaction vehicle dynamics, materials technology and emerging research areas such remote condition monitoring systems (RCM) and Big Data analytics as part of the developing digital railway.

Under the context of the newly formed CIR, the facilities will provide an advanced dynamic testing capability for the trialling and approvals of vehicle and track systems. The new equipment also supports a range of existing virtual testing and expert modelling services provided by the wider IRR team. These include mechanical dynamics, design optimisation and Finite Element modelling. State-of the-art new facilities include:

- Advanced full-scale bogie rolling contact, adhesion and braking rig
- 50t capacity general purpose dynamic test cell with Hardware-in-the-loop capability
- High g actuators for study of vibrations and approval of on-vehicle equipment
- Multi-purpose 6-axis motion platform
- 120 node High Performance Computing Cluster (HPCC) for Big Data analytics
- Clean laboratory for development of prototype RCM technologies

The advanced facilities at the IRR will enable the team to offer a wide range of specialist expert services and research programmes in the fields of design evaluation, mechanical dynamics and specialist areas of railway vehicle engineering.


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