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Research, development and technology

In partnership with industry, we look at how research, development and technology can make train travel more comfortable, accessible, reliable and affordable.

The first industry-led Rail Technical Strategy (RTS) (PDF), published in December 2012, set out a vision for the railway of the future. We published our contribution to the RTS vision – the Network Rail technical strategy – in June 2013.

Working closely with industry, under one capability delivery plan for the railway, we are at the forefront of research, development and technology for railway infrastructure in Britain and internationally.

Our work to optimise and transform the railway includes:

  • supporting the Digital Railway programme to accelerate the introduction of technologies to improve capacity
  • becoming a founding member of Horizon 2020 Shift2Rail, leading the infrastructure programme and sharing in around £690m of collaborative rail technical demonstrators
  • the independently powered electric multiple unit (EMU), colloquially known as the battery-powered train, successfully operating in service, physically demonstrating the capability of on-board energy
  • our Rail Innovation & Development Centres (RIDCs), comprising test track sites at Melton and Tuxford in the Midlands – these underpin our research, development and technology and we manage them as a strategic industry resource
  • many research, development and technology projects undertaken through our university partnerships with leading British universities in rail-related research.

Our solutions

You can find a summary of our recent research, development and technology investments in section nine of our 2016 annual return. The solutions being developed through these investments, together with research, development and technology solutions promoted by the RSSB, are included in a catalogue (PDF).

Rail Technical Strategy

Our contribution to the rail technical strategy vision about the future of the railway

Rail Innovation & Development Centres (RIDCs)

More information about our test facilities at Melton and Tuxford

Product acceptance

Our product acceptance process assures that certain types of product for use on the railway infrastructure are safe, compatible, reliable and fit for purpose