The Future of Rail Innovation
The UK’s first net zero railway
The Global Centre of Rail Excellence will be a purpose built site for world class research, testing and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure and innovative new rail technologies that will fill a gap, not just in UK rail, but across Europe.
A more affordable rail network for tomorrow
The Global Centre of Rail Excellence being constructed in South Wales is one of the most critical and creative infrastructure projects happening anywhere in European rail.
With benefits for the industry and for government; for our natural environment and for the local and national economies, the project is unique in its vision and the multiple benefits it will bring.
As a site for world class rail innovation GCRE will bring people and ideas together, supporting the design and development of imaginative new technologies and concepts that can be the backbone of the stronger, greener, and more affordable rail network of tomorrow.
The facility will include two 25KV electrified test loops, one a 6.9km high speed rolling stock track with a maximum speed of around 177km/h (potential for 201km/h under review) and the other a 4km ~65km/h infrastructure test track.
Facilities will include a dual-platform test environment, rolling stock warm storage and maintenance facilities, operations room, staff accommodation and connections to the main line. There will be state of the art visitor and conference facilities, a business park and a hotel.
GCRE was established in 2021 with a commitment of £50 million from the Welsh Government. The UK Government has provided £20m and a further £7.4m is being provided through Innovate UK for Research and Development.
Spanning the former Nant Helen opencast site and Onllwyn Washery, the site straddles the Neath Port Talbot and Powys local authority areas. GCRE will be fully operational in the summer of 2025.
For the rail industry
GCRE will fill a strategic gap as a place to undertake world class testing, research and certification of new rolling stock, infrastructure, technology and ideas, helping speed up innovation and bring new products to market faster.
For governments across the UK and Europe
GCRE will support better value for money and greater cost control by testing new ideas and innovations before they are deployed in major projects, helping develop the transport systems of tomorrow faster and more efficiently.
For future generations
GCRE will support our urgent, collective need to tackle the climate crisis and reach net zero by helping develop new rail and transport technologies that can be deployed faster to reduce carbon emissions and encourage more people onto our railways.
And for the Economy
GCRE will generate long-term, high-quality jobs and support the creation of new skills for young people in an area impacted by four decades of deindustrialisation, becoming a magnet project that can draw in other, high-quality investments.
A public procurement exercise began on 23rd November to secure private investment for the project. This process is due to conclude in the autumn of 2023.
Our ambition is to establish the Global Centre of Rail Excellence as Europe’s premier site for rail innovation. It will become a one stop shop for the industry, providing world class research, testing and certification of new technologies and new ideas that can become the backbone of tomorrow’s stronger, greener and more affordable railway.
To achieve this, GCRE will seek out a leadership role in our industry, contributing the vision, and providing the platform, from which to transform and accelerate rail innovation so that we can, together, tackle the collective challenges we face – including supporting our path to net zero, contributing to a fairer economy and creating new green jobs for this and future generations.