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WS Atkins PLC : Landmark agreement puts ultra high speed rail on fast track - 19 July 2013

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07/19/2013 | 04:39pm CEST
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Landmark agreement puts ultra high speed rail on fast track - 19 July 2013

Atkins and Heriot-Watt University have signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding to create a Centre of Excellence for High Speed Rail, aiming to push the boundaries of railway track research beyond high speed into the realm of ultra high speed.

High speed rail is one of the largest civil engineering initiatives currently under development, with projects worldwide expected to be worth hundreds of billions of pounds in just the next 15 years. There is therefore a very real need to create a platform to share knowledge and practical innovation to deliver transformational railways that people actually want to use.

Professor Dr Uwe Krueger, Atkins' CEO, said: "The signing of this Memorandum is a key moment for the development of high speed and ultra high speed railway technology. With 15,000 miles of new high speed track due to be laid in the next decade or so, it is vital that we have a Centre of Excellence which is a 'go-to' place for design and testing of new ideas such as design of new track beds and shape of embankments.

"Atkins and Heriot-Watt both have significant experience and expertise in rail research, development and delivery. Our challenge is to deliver an approach that meets the needs of investors, technology, industry, the environment, as well as the political and social landscape. For example, how can we help reduce the footprint of the railway and make areas around the railway more usable? This alone could drastically improve the business case for such projects."

Professor Peter Woodward, director of the Institute for Infrastructure and Environment at Heriot-Watt, is one of the world's leading experts on geo-engineering of railways. He plans to construct the world's most advanced railway test track facility (GRAFT III) positioning the Edinburgh-based Centre as the world's premier railway testing organisation for high-speed.

He said: "The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding represents a pivotal moment in high-speed railways in both the UK and worldwide. High and ultra speed railways are our future, they have the capacity to transform the economic prosperity of nations and our challenge is to develop the technology to underpin their successful implementation and cost effectiveness across the world. The formation of this new Centre will allow this vision to become a reality."

Heriot-Watt University has a strong track record of developing High Speed Rail research in the UK and internationally. Earlier this year, under the leadership of Professor Peter Woodward, the UK's biggest purpose-built laboratory test track bed, (GRAFT II) which canpredict the effects of high speed trainsand simulate the effects of decades of operation on major lines, was constructed at the University.

It uses hydraulic systems to simulate a combined 120 tonnes of force, and can be configured to simulate three times that, allowing researchers to look at the behaviour of rail tracks, including high speed rail tracks, in real life situations and under full-scale conditions.


For more information:

Louisa Perry
PR manager

+44 1372 756 297/+44 7970 575193

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Notes to editors:

Atkins (www.atkinsglobal.com) is one of the world's leading design, engineering and project management consultancies*, employing some 18,000 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. Over 75 years, from post-war regeneration and the advent of nuclear engineering to high speed rail and the integrated sustainable cities of the future, our people's breadth and depth of expertise and drive to ask why has allowed us to plan, design and enable some of the world's most complex projects.

*14th largest global design firm (Engineering News-Record 2012) and the third largest multidisciplinary consultancy in Europe (Svensk Teknik och Design 2012).

Recent projects

Atkins is working across urban regeneration, masterplanning, national energy programmes, major transport schemes, water and environment projects - applying smart design solutions on projects including:

  • Doha Central Planning Office - helping to co-ordinate Qatar's National 2030 Vision for world class transport infrastructure, which will bring major benefits to the economy;
  • The London 2012 Games infrastructure transformation - as technical advisor to London's boroughs as the Olympic Park moves into its legacy configuration as a follow-on role to our work as the Games' official engineering and design provider;
  • UAE's peaceful nuclear new build programme - providing technical assurance to lenders backing the United Arab Emirates' most ambitious energy infrastructure projects;
  • North Sea and Gulf of Mexico oil and gas platforms - extending the operational life of critical oil and gas platforms to allow cost-efficient and safe recovery of fuel sources from mature fields;
  • SSE offshore wind alliance - provision of expert engineering and design support for the UK's biggest offshore wind alliance with Scottish and Southern Energy;
  • Crossrail - designing the Central London twin tunnels and station architecture for Europe's biggest civil engineering scheme which will see tunnels passing beneath 470 listed buildings and critical infrastructure;
  • Etihad Railway - providing multidisciplinary design expertise on the 1,200 km Etihad Rail network which will revolutionise passenger and freight transport in the UAE;
  • Denmark ERTMS - providing multidisiplinary signalling expertise on the first countrywide installation of an ERTMS train control and management system in Denmark;
  • Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge - lead consultant on this integral part of the new Hong Kong link road scheme which will significantly boost land connectivity in the region;
  • Lowestoft Sixth Form College - design of the ultralow energy consumption Lowestoft College in the UK which aims to reduce operational energy use by more than 60% compared to previous designs;
  • UK National Composites Centre - providing technical expertise to bring the latest lightweight carbon fibre materials to all engineering sectors, helping to develop innovative applications and reduce costs and carbon;
  • US Environmental Protection Agency - providing technical assessment and analysis of national water-related resources and ecological systems in North America;
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) superfast broadband - providing technical, commercial and procurement support to help deliver superfast broadband to one of Europe's most remote regions.
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