Network Rail and Strukton Rail have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the delivery of Network Rail’s £245m research and development (R&D) portfolio in Control Period 6.

The MoU – signed by Network Rail’s chief engineer Jon Shaw and Jacob Zeeman, CEO of Dutch rail and civil engineering company Strukton – will see the two organisations cooperate on and develop asset management, intelligent infrastructure and advanced data analytics to support more reliable passenger and freight journeys with safer and more cost-effective maintenance.

Greater demands are being placed on an ageing railway which is experiencing more frequent incidents of extreme weather. Network Rail is committed to getting technology on to the railway much more quickly to help address these challenges and give passengers a more reliable and resilient railway every day of the year.

Ali Smith, senior programme manager for Network Rail’s R&D Portfolio, said: “We have set an ambitious programme for research and development over the next five years and are determined to use this portfolio to find new and innovative ways to deliver a better railway for passengers and freight users. Our success relies on working with many organisations, particularly where all parties are contributing to joint development.”

The MoU frames opportunities for Network Rail and Strukton to jointly develop and transfer technologies into new operating environments over five years. It is part of Network Rail’s plans to reduce barriers to innovation by making itself easier for partners to work with.

Lindsay Sadler, head of maintenance delivery for Scotland region, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing how we can improve our track maintenance programme and continue our drive to improve safety by separating staff from trains.”

Ian Puckrin, head of maintenance delivery for Eastern region, said: “Technical collaboration between Strukton and Network Rail presents an exciting opportunity to accelerate the use of the huge volume of data we acquire from our assets. The prize is a significant improvement in both asset performance and workforce safety.”

Notes to editors  

  • Network Rail’s head of maintenance Tim Flower has been heavily involved in exploring specific areas for collaboration with Strukton. Tim has been supported by Mark Gaddes, collaborative funding lead in Network Rail’s R&D team, and both have worked closely with Strukton’s Erland Tegelberg to put this arrangement in place.
  • This collaboration builds on work under Innovation Programme 3 (IP3) of the Shift2Rail European partnership which addresses cost efficient, sustainable and reliable high capacity infrastructure.  Network Rail is a founding member of Shift2Rail and the co-ordinator for IP3.