Avanti West Coast Pendolino-2

Avanti West Coast becomes first train operator to join network that aims to innovate rail sector

Avanti West Coast joins UK Rail Research Innovation Network as part of aspirations to revolutionise rail travel.

  • Avanti West Coast becomes member of UK Rail Research Innovation Network
  • Initiative brings together world-leading experts and facilities across industry
  • Operator joins industry partners and academic institutions to innovate rail sector

Avanti West Coast has become the first train operator to join a prestigious network of world-leading experts and facilities aiming to revolutionise rail travel.

The intercity operator, which serves major towns and cities on the West Coast between London and Scotland, is now part of the UK Rail Research Innovation Network (UKRRIN) – an initiative designed to create collaboration between academia and the rail industry.

Led by the University of Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), UKRRIN aims to provide a step-change in innovation in the sector. The network provides its members with access to the latest facilities and research from experts across the industry to support the development and adoption of new solutions and technologies.

Membership of UKRRIN will give Avanti West Coast access to subject specialists in digital systems, rolling stock and infrastructure to identify opportunities to develop and innovate its customer experience, as well as its day-to-day operation.

The first collaboration project between Avanti and the University of Birmingham will see the BCRRE analyse areas of the business to propose priorities for the future, including its behind-the-scenes operations, customer experience, accessibility, and inclusivity. 

Through its membership to UKRRIN, Avanti West Coast will also gain access to the skills, knowledge and expertise of the University of Huddersfield, which is the lead for the Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock and the University of Southampton – the lead facility for the Centre of Excellence in Infrastructure.

Michael Weston, Executive Director of Projects at Avanti West Coast, said: “The West Coast Main Line has a proud history of innovating, and we’re keen to continue that as we aim to revolutionise rail travel.

“Joining the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network will help us to progress ideas, explore opportunities, enabling us to play our part in building a railway for the future, as we strive to find new ways of working and initiatives that deliver the best possible customer experience.

“We’re excited to be a part of this great network of world-leading experts and look forward to collaborating with them to create a railway the UK can be proud of.”

Paul Plummer, Professor in Rail Strategy at the BCRRE said: “In these challenging times it’s more important than ever that the industry is able to innovate to improve customer experience, sustainability and affordability. We’re delighted to be working with Avanti West Coast on their priorities and for them to become the first train operating company to join UKRRIN.”


Contact Information

Laura Normansell

Avanti West Coast


Notes to editors

About UK Rail Research and Innovation Network

The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) is designed to create powerful collaboration between academia and industry, aiming to provide a step-change in innovation in the sector and accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally.

The initiative was built on the development of three Centres of Excellence formed by a consortium of universities, in collaboration with existing industry testing and trialling facilities such as Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centres.

Centres were created in:  

  • Digital Systems (led by University of Birmingham, in partnership with Lancaster University, Imperial College London, Swansea University and University of Hull)
  • Rolling Stock (led by University of Huddersfield, in partnership with Newcastle University, Loughborough University, University of Cambridge, University of Bristol, Brunel University and University of Nottingham)
  • Infrastructure (led by University of Southampton, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University and Heriot-Watt University)


About Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast, operator of intercity rail services on the West Coast Main Line, is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia, delivering a cleaner, greener railway that drives the West Coast forward.

We’re on a mission to revolutionise train travel, linking together the towns and major cities of the UK to create an iconic railway the country can be proud of. We’ve got big plans including a fleet of new intercity trains, as well as the complete refurbishment of the existing Pendolino train fleet. We will introduce more train services every week with new routes added, and a much-improved onboard service with enhanced free Wi-Fi, plug sockets, 25,000 brand new seats and improved catering. Since 8 December 2019, passengers have benefitted from improved passenger compensation, available for journeys delayed by just 15 minutes.

For the latest news, visit the Avanti West Coast Media Room: https://newsdesk.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/

Press Office: 0845 000 3333

About the University of Birmingham

For media enquiries please contact Tony Moran, Press Office, University of Birmingham, tel: +44 (0)7827 832312.

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

About the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education

BCRRE is Europe’s largest academic-based group delivering railway science and education. With over 180 academics, researchers, and professional support staff, BCRRE provides world-class research and thought leadership within railways, and offers an expanding portfolio of high-quality education programmes, including Rail and Rail Systems Level 6- and 7-degree apprenticeships. In 2018 BCRRE became the lead partner in the £92m UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). Watch our ‘We are BCRRE’ video and contact us at railway@contacts.bham.ac.uk. www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/railway/index