University of Huddersfield unveils £4.5 million railway test rig

Leading figures in the UK railway industry came to the University of Huddersfield to celebrate the completion of a multi-million pound test rig and the inauguration of a new group that will help to fast track innovations in railway technology.

The university is home to the Institute of Railway Research (IRR). After securing £4.5 million from the Regional Growth Fund, its facilities now include a 150 ton test rig that enables a wide range of experiments to be conducted on a full-size railway bogie, enabling in-depth investigation of many issues surrounding the contact area between wheel and rail.

The rig was officially opened by Richard East, who chairs the Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), with over 100 engineers and executives from engineering firms and official rail bodies attending.

Alongside the test rig the Institute launched a unit named the Centre for Innovation in Rail. It has been set up to help the railway supply chain develop innovative products and is a conduit for research activity within the IRR, aiming to work with industry, especially small to medium sized firms.

At the launch the director of the IRR, Professor Simon Iwnicki, described the wide range of research being conducted by the institute, which investigates issues such as rolling stock, track materials, railway infrastructure and braking systems.

“We do a lot of research by computer modelling, but this needs to be supported by testing and that is why what we are showing you today is so important to us,” Mr Iwnicki said.

Before the ceremony there was a sequence of talks from special guests, which concluded with an address from Mr East. He stressed the need to attract talented young engineers into the railway sector to meet a range of challenges and opportunities.

He hoped that issues such as the need for sustainability and greater energy efficiency would motivate the new generation of engineers and he outlined some of the challenges ahead, such as the speedier adoption of novel materials as an alternative to steel. Mr East said he was encouraged by developments at the IRR, hoping they would help to stimulate young engineers.

Institute of Railway Research

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