GCRE and Swansea University agree unique rail research partnership

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The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) and Swansea University have agreed a new research collaboration based at the world class GCRE innovation facility, which features the UK’s first net zero railway, being constructed in South Wales.

Swansea University on a recent visit to the GCRE site

GCRE will be a site for international quality rail research, testing and showcasing of rolling stock, infrastructure, and cutting-edge new technologies when it opens next year.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two bodies will enable Swansea University and GCRE to collaborate on areas of common research interest.

Swansea University is already a well-established name in rail innovation, being an affiliate of the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) as well as having significant expertise in areas including railway signaling, infrastructure and civil engineering.

In addition to rail innovation, the 700-hectare GCRE site provides significant opportunities to support study in complementary research areas such as renewable energy, natural sciences, and a wide range of engineering disciplines. The partnership allows the site to be utilized by academics from across the university.

Separate to this memorandum of understanding, Swansea University will also be a partner in a new Centre of Excellence for Railway Testing, Validation and Customer Experience at GCRE, alongside the University of Birmingham and Cardiff University, following a £15m award from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).

GCRE, head of strategy and skills, Rob Forde, said, “Swansea has some sector-leading strengths in key areas including rail technology, engineering, and infrastructure and GCRE will provide a platform at which its teams can undertake cutting edge research and development, as well providing a fantastic location for students to get skills and experience at a live railway environment.

“In many ways the partnership is a very natural one. Swansea has its home very close to the site and it’s important to us at GCRE that we harness that strength and capability directly on our doorstep. The clients we will be working with and facilitating testing for on site will certainly value having a highly renowned university like Swansea linked to the facility.”

Professor David Smith, pro vice-chancellor and executive dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Swansea University added, “We are delighted to strengthen our existing relationship with GCRE and enter a more formalized partnership between our two organizations. Our collaboration will include skill development, student training and innovation in digital twinning, energy, and net zero, materials, infrastructure and environmental science while supporting regional and national rail technology and innovation. 

“GCRE is a unique facility within the UK and, indeed, Europe, and we are very fortunate to have it on our doorstep. We look forward to working with the team at GCRE to develop opportunities for impactful research and education through this new partnership,” Smith concluded.