Commercial demand for the Global Centre of Rail Excellence
By Kelly Warburton – Chief Commercial Officer, Global Centre of Rail Excellence
It has been a fascinating last few years for the team developing the Global Centre of Rail Excellence.
Many individuals within rail had been considering the idea of constructing a purpose-built, single site facility for world class research, testing and innovation for a number of years. It has been a holy grail in the industry for a long time. Any development of this size was always going to need a large and available site, a willing host community and supportive project partners and until recently the stars had never aligned to make such a facility a reality.
In 2016/17, it was the Welsh Government that picked up the opportunity. They were the ones to develop and shape the idea and find a suitable site, with significant support then being provided by the UK Government and two superb local authorities nearby.
Along the way there has been a huge amount of creativity, design and consultation with the rail industry. GCRE is a facility quite unlike anything currently existing in the UK and Europe and we’ve spent the last couple of years making the case, across the continent, as to why our facility can and will make such a big difference to the industry, particularly as it faces the challenges of getting to net zero.
What has made all that hard work and graft so satisfying is seeing all that hard work pay off, in particular seeing the growing interest and commercial appetite that now exists for the word class innovation facility we are building. In recent months we have seen major clients develop partnerships with GCRE to secure research, testing and innovation time at our new facility once it is operational.
To name a few, Hitachi Rail have developed a partnership to bring all of their rail testing; battery development and digital innovation to the GCRE site, including testing new British-built trains at the facility. Transport for Wales have signed up to be a Premium client of GCRE when it opens, which will see them bringing their rail testing, innovation and R&D to site. Thales, a world leader in digital technologies, signalling, communications and cybersecurity technology have signed up to collaborate with GCRE on future rail infrastructure projects and Talgo have publicly expressed a desire to build a long-term partnership with GCRE on site.
These announcements demonstrate the high and growing commercial confidence the industry has in GCRE. The facility is not just a good idea on paper – the business is building a diverse and growing portfolio of high-profile, international clients all wanting to use our world class facilities.
This is industry and market endorsing the GCRE vision.
And across the extended rail supply chain across the UK and Europe there has been huge interest in what GCRE can do to support businesses. From getting involved in the build, to supporting first-of-a-kind developments, to providing accessible innovation space to showcase new products and technologies, there is significant demand for the broad range of services and functionality that GCRE will provide once it’s operational.
GCRE has a commercial reach that extends right across Europe with an increasing number of clients now seeing in the GCRE facility a way to better achieve their ambitions.
Currently, GCRE is currently taking the next, major step forward in its development by seeking private sector investment. To support that process we are grateful to all those who have come together recently to show their support for what GCRE can do.
To highlight the strength of that interest a number of companies have signed up to an open letter which is available on our website. The letter highlights the industry support that exists for GCRE and commercial appetite that exists for our services once we are operational.
The range of organisations who have signed this letter is significant and just goes to show how important and necessary GCRE is. We’re incredibly grateful to all those that have signed the letter and will be adding more names in the coming weeks and months.
If you would like to add your name to the letter, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org – and add your support to develop Europe’s premier research, testing and innovation facility here in the UK.
GCRE is set to become Europe’s premier rail innovation facility – a place for international standard research, testing and certification of rolling stock, new infrastructure and cutting edge rail technologies that will bring huge benefits for the industry and those working within it.
We look forward to moving ahead on that journey with you.