Innovation hubs, big data, decarbonisation – and, in a very specific presentation, the potential of using robots to extract
human waste from train toilets - were among the themes and discussion points at the relaunched Unlocking Innovation
event on 10 December at the University of Huddersfield. Freelance journalist Ian Hall writes what he found out...
The all-day event, held in Huddersfield on 10 December, ran
under the ‘M.A.D.E. for’ theme, which stands for Materials,
Automation, Data and Energy - key areas where the UK rail sector
could develop new technologies, benefiting both the domestic
rail system and providing the industry with a competitive edge
‘M.A.D.E. for Rolling Stock’ examined these key areas in train
manufacturing and maintenance, with presentations from clients
and businesses from both inside and outside the rail industry.
After welcomes from RIA’s Richard Jones and Prof Simon
Iwnicki, Director of the University of Huddersfield’s Institute
of Railway Research, the event – attended by more than 100
participants – saw short presentations from Network Rail's (NR)
Amanda Mackie, Unipart Accelerator Hub’s Steve Ingleton,
Arthur Emyr from the Welsh Government’s Global Centre of Rail
Excellence and Kevin Eley from the Porterbrook Innovation Hub.
Mackie outlined NR’s Rail Innovation and Development
Centres work programme including acting as a testbed for 5G
technology, ETCS (European Train Control System) level 2 and an initiative using soil saturation levels to predict potential flood
risk. Emyr described how the £125m rail-testing complex would
include a “unique-to-Europe high tonnage infrastructure testing
loop” and that the first phase could be in use by 2022. But the
site, he said, involved a significant “earthworks challenge”.
Porterbrook’s Eley outlined the application process for the
Porterbrook 2020 Innovation Hub, emphasising that the deadline
is 7 January 2020.