The Institute of Railway Research (IRR) within the School of Computing and Engineering at The University of Huddersfield is a world-leading centre in the field of railway engineering and safety.

Our research has helped to improve knowledge of the way in which railway vehicles interact with the track including key performance aspects such as suspension performance, wheel-rail contact, traction and braking. In collaboration with industry and academic partners, this work has led to a number of new tools and techniques which are now used to predict deterioration of railway wheels and rails, to optimise the vehicle track interface, to increase safety and reliability levels, reduce cost and improve performance of the railway system.

A large proportion of the IRR’s research is of special relevance to the agendas of safety, sustainability and carbon reduction. For example, new materials, manufacturing technologies and systems of maintenance and condition-monitoring can increase cost-effectiveness for rail operators, and the transition to electrification can be accelerated by research that will make overhead power distribution much more efficient and reliable.

An example of the close collaboration of the institute with industry has been its long term strategic partnership with RSSB. This allowed the Institute to expand its team by 10 full-time staff and develop a new field of research in the application of big data to understanding and predicting rail safety and operational risk.

In 2014 a grant of £4M from the Regional Growth Fund allowed us to set up the ‘Centre for Innovation in Rail’ (CIR), which has supported the development of innovative new products and growing employment in SMEs in the industry supply chain.

The IRR was a founder member of the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) which is a partnership between the railway industry and the leading academic institutions carrying out railway research. The IRR hosts the UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Rolling Stock.

In 2019 we were very proud that the IRR was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary prize “for research and development that has brought significant improvements to the railway industry.”

Simon Iwnicki
Director of the IRR

Virtual Reality Tour - Have a look at the IRR labs here





Find out more about the IRR



Our research staff are creative and innovative practitioners who have wide industrial and research experience.


Facilities and equipment

The Institute of Railway Research (IRR) has invested heavily in its facilities and equipment and has just opened a new £4.5M laboratory.



Find out about current career opportunities at the IRR.


Centre for Innovation in Rail

Advancing technology and business process in the railway supply chain


UKRRIN Centre of Excellence in Rolling Rock

UKRRIN (the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network) is a new initiative designed to create a powerful collaboration between academia and industry.


Smart Rolling Stock Maintenance Research Facility

  • Robotics & Automation
  • Optimised scheduling
  • RCM & Prognostics
  • Digitally enabled workforce

"This report demonstrates the huge potential for rail innovation within the region and emphasises the benefits of Universities and Industry working together in partnership. Unipart Rail, as a founder member of UKRRIN and host of the new Technology and Innovation Hub at Doncaster, is well placed to build on this potential to deliver benefits both within the region and to the whole industry." Prof Steve Ingleton.


Research capabilities

The IRR is setup with three core teams handling a broad range of projects from long term fundamental research to short term industry problem-solving studies and applied industrial R&D.


Research excellence

The IRR has built up over many years a strong reputation for excellent research and professional support to the railway industry



Discover the various outputs of the Institute here

The IRR is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in railway research. Read our impact statement to learn more about what we do. 


Services to industry

The Institute of Railway Research provides a range of industrial R&D and consultancy services to the railway industry in the UK and worldwide


Mission statement

The Institute of Railway Research (IRR) aims to become a world leading centre of railway engineering research



Download our Manchester wheel-rail contact benchmark files here



View upcoming and previous events hosted by the IRR


Courses and research opportunities

The Institute of Railway Research (IRR) can offer courses and various research opportunities to help you further your career in rail. 

Contact Us

If you would like to know more about our areas of expertise or wish to discuss research opportunities with the Institute of Railway Research then please contact us on the details below:

General enquiries

Institute of Railway Research
University of Huddersfield

Tel: +44 (0)1484 472030

Email: irr.info@hud.ac.uk

Director of the IRR


Prof Simon Iwnicki

Director of IRR

s.iwnicki@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473731

Enquiries on research activities


Prof Paul Allen

Assistant Director - Principal Enterprise Fellow

p.d.allen@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473047


Prof Yann Bezin

Head of Research - Principal Enterprise Fellow

y.bezin@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473732

Enquiries on enterprise activities


Prof Adam Bevan

Head of Enterprise - Principal Enterprise Fellow

a.j.bevan@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473077


Mr Julian Stow

Assistant Director - Principal Enterprise Fellow

j.m.stow@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473021

Where to find us

For directions to the University campus see Campus maps and Directions

On Campus 

The Institute of Railway Research is located in corridor T5 of the Technology Building which is in the centre of the below map. 

Location map for the IRR