New £64million high speed rail research centre to open in Leeds

A new 'world class' rail research centre is to be created in Yorkshire, it has been confirmed, aimed at developing cutting-edge transport technologies with a global reach.

Prof Peter Woodward, head of the University of Leeds Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration (IHSRSI)

Government funding has been agreed for a new institute from the University of Leeds, which it hopes will create one of the most advanced rail research facilities in the world.

The move could see the Leeds City Region become a national centre for rail engineering, partners have said, bringing a huge economic boost to the area and easing disruption.

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Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, praising the region's universities, added: “Improving transport for people across the North remains our priority so it is fitting that the research facilities, when developed, will revolutionise the transport system and benefit passengers by ensuring it is fit for the 21st century and beyond."

Artists impression of the new University of Leeds Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration (IHSRSI) Credit: Atkins Architects

The University of Leeds’ Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration (IHSRSI) is set to be sited on the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone next to the HS2 depot.

It would see three cutting edge test facilities, with 'rolling road' tracks to replicate journeys, infrastructure testing for trains, and an innovation centre to see how systems work together.

Easing disruption and securing future as global leader

Prof Peter Woodward, institute head, said the move will revolutionise systems, while research could result in less disruption for passengers.

“The test facilities will place the Leeds City Region as a global leader in high speed railway technology development," he said.

"It means the UK once again being at the forefront of railway development, research, testing, certification and commercialization."

Chief executive of HS2 Ltd, Mark Thurston, suggested that today's announcement signals a "sign of confidence" in the economic and skills benefits that high speed rail can bring.

And as well as leading on national research, chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership Roger Marsh OBE has said, the institute could bring in new companies to the area.

"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," he adds.

Government funding of £11m has been confirmed for the project today, backed by a further £40m from the University of Leeds and industry partners.

Its creation forms the early phase of an ambitious plan to position the city region as a centre for rail engineering, with £13m pledged from the LEP Growth Deal.

The Government’s support to the Leeds Institute has been allocated from the UK Research Partnership and Investment Fund (UKRPIF). The aim is for the institute to become fully operational in 2021.