A report by economics and policy analysts Perspective Economics claims that greater investment in rail research could be used to help level up the economy in the north of England.
Entitled ‘Rail Innovation Eco-System: Understanding the Region’s Research and Innovation Capacity, Capabilities and Potential’, the report says there is a “compelling case” for further investment in rail innovation in the region that could drive “…economic recovery, and longer-term industrial advancement and economic growth”.
The report, which was commissioned by the University of Leeds and University of Huddersfield, describes a “collective appetite among academia and industry to drive research” with hundreds of companies in the north of England already actively involved in rail industry research, development and innovation – and universities with advanced rail test facilities and expertise and a strong record of collaboration with the rail industry on research.
The call to use rail innovation as a means of economic development comes as the Government makes substantial investments in rail infrastructure through HS2 and upgrades to the East Coast main line, linking London to Yorkshire and Scotland, and the Transpennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York. That investment could amount to £200 billion over two decades.
Perspective Economics says the two universities could be the catalysts for future research with additional support from Government, the research councils, industry and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.
Professor Stephen Ingleton, engineering director at Unipart Rail, said: “This report demonstrates the huge potential for rail innovation within the region and emphasises the benefit of universities and industry working in partnership. As a company, we have strong research links with the higher education sector, and we are well placed to build on this to deliver benefits both within the region and to the whole industry.”