Doncaster MPs and Councillors visit the new UKRRIN hub at Unipart Rail headquarters

Dame Rosie Winterton MP was among visitors to Doncaster’s new £92m rail technology hub on Friday (19 November), which will fast track the latest rail products and services to market for local companies. 

The new Technology and Innovation hub at Unipart Rail’s Doncaster headquarters was launched in September by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), a partnership between academia and industry.

Attendees included Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central and Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, as well as a selection of guests from UKRRIN, Doncaster Council, Doncaster and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and University partners.

Led by Unipart Rail, the new hub will support the sector in translating academic research and innovation to solve strategic industry challenges and to enable and develop the next generation of products and services. The hub is supported by leading universities including Huddersfield, Southampton, and Birmingham, and organisations including Unipart Rail, Network Rail, RSSB and the Railway Industry Association (RIA).

The hub includes a new showcase for the UKRRIN area which covers:

  • Digital Systems – located at the University of Birmingham. It will focus on railway control and simulation, data integration and cybersecurity, condition monitoring and sensing, and improved methods for technology introduction 
  • Rolling Stock – led by the University of Huddersfield in collaboration with the University of Newcastle and Loughborough University. It will focus on high value rolling stock systems, whole life asset optimisation and through-life management, and energy management
  • Infrastructure – led by the University of Southampton in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and Heriot-Watt University
  • Testing – led by Network Rail and containing information on the Network Rail Centre of Excellence in Testing, and Research and Development Portfolio.

This is an exciting new venture which will bring growth to the region, support local SMEs, develop new digital technologies and innovations, and support the levelling up agenda for the region.

Dame Rosie Winterton, Labour MP for Doncaster Central, commented: “There is some very inspirational work being done here in Doncaster into innovation and digital transformation and this new hub is an excellent example of this. I am so pleased this is happening in our town.”

Neil McNicholas, Managing Director at Unipart Rail, said: “This event was an excellent opportunity for us to welcome our local MPs, Councillors and our partners to the new UKRRIN Technology and Innovation Hub, here at our headquarters in Doncaster.

“It is an exciting time for the region at the moment. It has entered the race to become the home of a new national body for the country’s railways and has also bid for the opportunity to achieve City Status. Unipart Rail is proud to play a leading role in this by supporting local businesses and SMEs to introduce new technologies into the rail sector and to drive innovation and growth into the region.”

To further support the Sheffield City Region and drive economic and business growth, Unipart Rail is a partner of the DIGI-RAIL project, an initiative designed to seek out and fast-track new technologies and innovations that are being developed by SMEs in the region. As part of the support for SMEs, Unipart Rail is providing 12 hours of free innovation support, free product research and development as well as access to academics and supply chain expertise to accelerate sector digitisation.

Visits to the UKRRIN hub from the rail industry are welcomed, as well as hosting for cross-industry meetings and conferences. For more information please email [email protected]

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