A TEAM of researchers and engineers at the University of Huddersfield whose mission is to future-proof the rail network by making innovations in track, rolling stock and safety have been awarded one of the most coveted honours in Higher Education, conferred after scrutiny by the Prime Minister and approval from Her Majesty the Queen.
At a special event at Buckingham Palace in London, the official announcement was made that the Institute of Railway Research (IRR), based at the University for the past seven years, was being conferred a Queen’s Anniversary Prize, for research and development that has brought significant improvements to the railway industry.
Receiving the award from HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall was the IRR’s Director, Professor Simon Iwnicki, alongside the University of Huddersfield’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan.
Following the official ceremony in London, Professor Iwnicki and the Vice-Chancellor hosted a celebratory lunchtime reception and invited the entire team of the railway institute to share the honour and join in with the celebrations.
Simon Iwnicki said: “On behalf of the whole team, I am delighted that we have been awarded this prize. It is a wonderful recognition of the work that we have been carrying out and the impact this is now having on the railway industry.”
Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the UK’s honours system but are awarded to institutions rather than individuals. They were first presented in 1993 in order to recognise universities and colleges that had carried out ground-breaking pioneering research in a wide range of disciplines. In 2015, the University of Huddersfield received a prize for its world-class research in the field of new music.
The prizes are awarded after highly-detailed submissions are assessed in an independent review process that takes several months and involves a wide range of consultations with experts. A shortlist is drawn up and discussed by the Awards Council of the Royal Anniversary Trust. Finally, a list of recommended institutions is presented to HM The Queen for approval, on the Prime Minister’s advice.
At a special event, that took place at Buckingham Palace in London, the Institute of Railway Research (IRR which has been based at the University of Huddersfield for the past seven years, officially received the Queen's Anniversary Prize for research and development that has brought significant improvements to the railway industry.
In this interview, filmed on the day of the official ceremony, are the University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Cryan, Director of the IRR Professor Simon Iwnicki and Chair of the University Council Mr Jonathan Thornton.
The Institute of Railway Research led by Professor Iwnicki relocated to the University of Huddersfield, which could provide space and resources for the significant investment and expansion that was envisioned. Since then the Institute has trebled in size as it built up a worldwide reputation for its research into the interaction between railway vehicles and the track. It has used this improved knowledge to support the railway industry in the UK and around the world.
The Institute has participated in many projects with industry and academic partners which have led to significant developments, innovations and practical applications. This work has attracted major investments in world-class equipment.
For example, at the start of 2019, the Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock was officially launched at the Institute, sharing in £90 million of funding, distributed among three Centres of Excellence, from the Government and from the private industry by the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).
One of the outcomes is the construction of a world-class, £3.5 million pantograph testing rig, soon to come into use.