Combined Authority Investment Committee backs development of new £39 million High Speed Rail Institute

Plans to develop Phase 1 of a world-leading Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration in Leeds took a significant step forward today when they were backed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee.

The planned Institute, which is a joint development led by the University of Leeds will provide Leeds City Region with a major hub for high-speed rail innovation in track infrastructure and dynamics, rolling stock technology and system integration.

Unrivalled centre of excellence 

The Institute is supported by a joint investment of £39m from the University, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and other partners. It will offer a ‘complete system’ approach to high speed rail engineering, giving the UK an unrivalled centre of excellence for high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing.

Located on a new University of Leeds development within the Leeds Gateway 45 Enterprise Zone, it will include state-of-the-art infrastructure and test facilities to unlock high-speed rail’s full potential regionally, nationally and globally.

Today’s Investment Committee backed £13 million of future funding from the Local Growth Fund for the Institute for the £26 million first phase, which will meet the Combined Authority’s Strategic Economic Plan targets of enabling local people to access new skills and better jobs.

Local job creation

Other benefits for the Leeds City Region will be attracting investment, contributing to local job creation, boosting GVA and establishing an international reputation in the advanced rail sector.

Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee said: “Developing the Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration with the University of Leeds will mean that the Leeds City Region, already at the cutting edge of the digital, manufacturing and innovation sectors, will be home to a unique research, innovation and training facility.

“The Institute will build upon the existing regional academic and industry expertise at the University of Huddersfield’s Institute of Railway Research and will help cement us as a worldwide centre of excellence with all the economic benefits that reputation will bring.”

Welcome investment

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, at the University of Leeds, added:  “This is a very welcome investment in the Institute, supporting the development and construction of the country’s high speed network. It will create jobs and skills opportunities, and positions the region and the UK as pioneers in modern high speed rail technologies.

“We will be drawing on the significant breadth of research strengths at Leeds and, combined with state-of-the-art test facilities, the Institute will be a fantastic environment for academics and the rail industry to collaborate on research and innovation activities.”

Catalyst

The report to today’s meeting says creating the Institute will act as a catalyst for establishing an Advanced Manufacturing Park in Leeds, attracting further investment from engineering and manufacturing companies. The next stage of the scheme will be to develop a full business case with finalised costs.

Link to the agenda and papers of today’s West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee meeting.

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