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Global Centre of Rail Excellence sign partnership with global leader in smart transportation

09 May 2023 3 minute read
Chief Executive of GCRE Limited Simon Jones and Andy Bell, Vice-President of Thales GTS UK

The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) has signed a partnership with a global leader in smart transportation to develop the next generation of innovative and cost saving rail technologies.

Thales’ Ground Transportation Systems (GTS) will collaborate with GCRE to transform the railways for passengers and freight users.

GTS is a world leader in digital technologies and is at the forefront of developments in sustainable transport solutions including digital signalling, autonomy, communications, ticketing and cybersecurity.

GCRE is a purpose-built rail innovation centre being constructed in south Wales that will provide a site for world class research, testing and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure and innovative new rail technologies.

The centre was established in 2021 with an initial commitment of £50 million from the Welsh Government.

The UK Government is also supporting the project with funding for research and development along with capital funding of £20 million.

GCRE recently launched a major public procurement to attract private funding for the project.

Spanning the former Nant Helen opencast site and Onllwyn Washery in south Wales, GCRE will be the UK’s first net zero railway.

The facility will include two 25KV electrified test loops, one a 6.9km high speed rolling stock track and the other a 4km ~60km/h infrastructure test track.


Construction of the site is due to be completed in 2025.

Chief Executive of GCRE Limited Simon Jones, said: “We’re delighted to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between GCRE Limited and Thales.

“The Global Centre of Rail Excellence that we are building in south Wales will be a site for genuinely world class rail and infrastructure innovation.

“Supporting the development of imaginative new technologies that will be the backbone of the stronger, greener, and more affordable rail network of tomorrow, it will fill a strategic gap not just in the UK, but across Europe.

“At our site we want to work with world class partners who have the skills and knowledge of the new digital technologies and sustainable transport solutions that can support our net zero future.

“That’s why it’s such a positive step for GCRE to sign this partnership with Thales.

“Thales’ expertise and their experience chimes well with our international ambitions for GCRE. Thales’ knowledge from across the world of pioneering transport solutions will blend well with our new site which will be Europe’s first purpose-built site for rail infrastructure innovation.

“Together we can push forward some really interesting and creative innovation in rail infrastructure and so we’re very excited to sign this collaboration and to begin our work together.”

Andy Bell, Vice-President of Thales GTS UK said: “We are thrilled to have signed this new MoU with GCRE and look forward to working alongside the GCRE team to help create the digital railways of the future at this exciting technology hub in Wales.”

“Countries, cities and transport operators around the world rely on Thales’ innovative solutions to meet new mobility demands.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring our wealth of expertise in digital signalling, communications, ticketing and cybersecurity which together help to provide connected journeys for passengers and freight.”

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Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 year ago

GCRE seems to be building some momentum signing memoranda with universities and global rail players. Siemens are already sponsoring Swansea University rail research from before GCRE so something looks to be growing at Onllwyn washery.
Goood news week.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kerry Davies
Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

This all sounds like good news for Southern Wales in general and rail transport in particular. What we probably need is to find a small group of wealthy folk in Wales who are willing to put their money to good use. What needs to be set up is a Community Interest company to re-instate the rail link from the station at Carmarthen to (say) Pencader on which to test electric light rail systems such as those they are developing at Nant Helen. With that in place the Welsh Government and whoever is in charge in Westminster by then will find… Read more »

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