As we approach the close of 2017 I want to highlight some good news and real progress that has been made this year for the UK railway in the field of research and innovation.
The big news was the successful partnership between 17 industrial organisations, 8 universities and a number of other organisations, in demonstrating that the UK railway can effectively collaborate to deliver a £92m project bid to Government to establish the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (@UKRRIN on twitter).
UKRRIN is a fascinating story that I have worked on for most of my 2 and a quarter years at Alstom with the University of Birmingham and plenty of others… The fact we succeeded with Government I think has really turned a corner for the rail industry that has traditionally been viewed as difficult to establish effective partnerships across traditional areas of interest/boundaries!!
And the proof of the pudding is in the eating of course! And what has Government said beyond that… well references to UKRRIN in 3 successive Government publications (as well as references in a number of Ministerial speeches) demonstrate that the Government is a firm supporter and wants UKRRIN to grow and develop further:
- The Industrial Strategy White Paper (p.140) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664563/industrial-strategy-white-paper-web-ready-version.pdf
- The Rail Strategy (p.42) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/663124/rail-vision-web.pdf
- The Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (p.58) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664432/transport-infrastructure-efficiency-strategy.pdf
This is all good news for the UK railway if we can turn the world class research and innovation into solutions that get applied and realise their true potential and value… that is the next task that we must all focus on in 2018! The important focus now is to broadcast the existence and purpose of UKRRIN and get wider industry support and engagement channeled behind it to make sure this is an outstanding success.
NB more info can be found here: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2017/07/universities-industry-unite-uk-railway-research-partnership.aspx