26 November 2018

Sheffield railway research at first UK Rail Research and Innovation Network conference

University of Sheffield researchers showcased their rail projects at the first-ever UK Rail Research and Innovation Network conference this November, supporting ongoing innovation in the railway sector.

Train travelling at high speed

Launched in February 2018, UKRRIN is a partnership between the rail industry and nine leading UK universities, delivering four world-class Centres of Excellence.

With a ten-year plan for collaborative industry-academia research, it is funded jointly by Research England and a variety of industry partners.

Covering research themes such as rolling stock, infrastructure, digital systems, and testing, the network has so far seen several partnerships established between leading academic institutions and rail suppliers - kickstarting projects that will benefit the railway network into the future.


Attending the first annual UKRRIN conference was an excellent opportunity for researchers at the University of Sheffield to showcase collaborative research that is stimulating innovation in the sector and ultimately working to reduce industry costs, maintain railway safety, and improve the experience for passengers.

Dr David Fletcher

Reader in Mechanical Engineering and member of UKRRIN


The University of Sheffield partnerships include collaborations with British Steel, Siemens and Network Rail.

Taking place in London, the first annual conference for the network saw over 200 academic and industry representatives come together to discuss and share partnerships, with the aim of increasing innovation, bringing new products to market, and allowing the rail industry to grow and thrive in uncertain times.

Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport also attended the event and gave a keynote speech highlighting the challenges for Government and the need for innovation in the railway sector if the UK is to compete on a world stage.

The University of Sheffield was represented at the conference by leading academics involved in railway research, with presentations on a variety of projects. These included:

  • Dr David Fletcher speaking on the outcomes of RateSetter, a project undertaken jointly between the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, and Automated Control & Systems Engineering to predict the impact of railway design and operational changes on flowrate for people boarding and alighting crowded trains.
  • Professor Roger Lewis speaking on rail life enhancement through laser cladding additive manufacture.
  • PhD student Özgün Sunar presenting his work on new equipment for fatigue life estimation of railway overhead power lines.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield attended and presented at the first UKRRIN Conference.


In its first year, UKRRIN has had a significant impact on the profile and recognition of our UK rail R and D and innovation capabilities. I am proud of all that we have achieved so far and our first annual conference is a great opportunity to take stock of our successes to date.

Jo Binstead

Head of Innovation at Siemens Rolling Stock and Chair of UKRRIN


Dr David Fletcher, Reader in Mechanical Engineering and member of UKRRIN said:

“Attending the first annual UKRRIN conference was an excellent opportunity for researchers at the University of Sheffield to showcase collaborative research that is stimulating innovation in the sector and ultimately working to reduce industry costs, maintain railway safety, and improve the experience for passengers.

“UKRRIN is a fantastic mechanism for bringing key stakeholders together to explore challenges and opportunities for railways, developing closer links between academia and industry. The conference was a great example of the benefits collaborative approaches can have and I am looking forward to continuing that work.”

Jo Binstead, Head of Innovation at Siemens Rolling Stock and Chair of UKRRIN said:

“In its first year, UKRRIN has had a significant impact on the profile and recognition of our UK rail R and D and innovation capabilities. I am proud of all that we have achieved so far and our first annual conference is a great opportunity to take stock of our successes to date.

“A number of exciting projects and collaborations have been kick-started by UKRRIN bringing the industry and academia closer together. In addition, UKRRIN has brought a greater awareness of the value and significance of our UK rail R&D capability and its positive impact on delivering the objectives of the UK Industrial Strategy.”

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