Network Rail has opened a new rail-vehicle development centre in Nottinghamshire aimed at developing rail vehicles, technology and equipment.
Network Rail claims to be investing more than £100m in new, more efficient machinery and engineering technologies to help minimise passenger disruption caused by renewals and maintenance work.
The newly restored track will be used to carry out development work and acceptance trials, which have to be completed whenever new equipment is introduced to the network.
The new development centre includes 10 miles of track between High Marnham and Thoresby colliery junction and will also be used as a training facility.
The new centre incorporates a stretch of restored track that served the former High Marnham coal-fired power station.
The track was selected for its location, relatively good condition and the ease in which it could be re-connected to the national rail network via the Robin Hood line.
The facility also includes a signalling system and calibrated curves and has a maximum line-speed of 50mph.
The track is mostly single-line railway with three miles of double track, and has the potential to be upgraded to a higher line-speed of up to 75mph.
Jerry England, Network Rail’s director of engineering, said: ‘The new facility will enable our rail-vehicle engineers to safely trial, optimise and commission new and modified rail vehicles and on-track plant in typical conditions, without causing disruption to the network.
‘It has wider benefits in that we can also carry out trials in realistic conditions of new machinery, thereby further supporting our product acceptance processes.
‘We want the centre to be a facility for the whole of the rail industry, which means we can offer a service to help our industry partners reduce research and development costs, and we hope to improve the facility further if it proves popular with our industry partners.’