GCRE announces Kelly Warburton as Chief Commercial Officer

Kelly Warburton has joined the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) as Chief Commercial Officer.

Previously Managing Director of UK & Europe for Unipart Rail, Kelly began her rail industry career with Alstom in 2001. She joined NRS, now Unipart Rail, in 2004 and worked her way up through the commercial division before becoming a member of the Unipart Rail Board and Group leadership team. She is also a Board member of the Rail Industry Association (RIA) and judge of the Everywoman in Transport Programme.

Kelly joins GCRE with a remit to develop and deliver the commercial strategy for GCRE, a £200 million infrastructure project that will transform the site of the former Nant Helen Opencast Mine and Onllwyn Washery at the head of the Dulais and Tawe Valleys in South Wales into a global hub for rolling stock and infrastructure testing, innovation, storage and maintenance.

GCRE will include two 25KV electrified test loops, one being a 6.9km  high speed rolling stock track with a maximum speed of 177km/h and the other a 4km 65km/h test track. Other facilities will include a dual-platform test environment, rolling stock storage and maintenance facilities, operations and control offices, staff accommodation, shunting staff facilities and connections to the nearby main line. There will also be state of the art secure testing environments; equipment, systems and communications development facilities. Education, training, visitor and conference facilities and an industrial development zone are all envisaged in the wider site.  

Simon Jones, Chief Executive of GCRE, said: “We’re building a highly skilled and experienced senior team to develop and deliver GCRE with the aim of becoming the ‘one stop shop’ for railway innovation, from research and development, through testing, verification and certification, to applied innovation on mainline passenger and freight railways.

“Kelly is a well-regarded and experienced Director with an excellent track record in the rail manufacturing, logistics and supply chain Industry. We’re delighted to welcome her to our growing team.”

Kelly Warburton said: “GCRE is a brilliant and much-needed project that will transform the local area and benefit the rail industry with purpose-built dynamic testing facilities for the UK and international market.

“I completely endorse and support the vision of GCRE being a catalyst for the creation of a rail technology hub in Wales; providing a flexible, open-market platform for leading R&D activity that drives and accelerates innovation on the journey to net-zero. It will give us the opportunity to develop and test rail sector principles, standards and specifications;  improving the UK’s competitive strengths as a world leader in achieving carbon neutrality, boosting exports and enabling greater efficiency in a lower cost reliable railway. I’m really proud to have been asked to join the team that is turning this vision in to reality.”

GCRE was established by the Welsh Government as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in 2021 with an initial commitment of £50 million. The UK Government is expected to confirm a further £10 million for research and development along with capital funding of £20 million. An investment prospectus to attract private funding for the project is also in development ready for launch in the autumn of 2022. 

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