The University of Leeds is investing £10m to develop a new dedicated centre for high speed rail technologies and system integration.

The new institution will become an "unrivalled centre of excellence" for high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing. It will include a high speed railway infrastructure and vehicle system test facility.

From foundations and track, traction systems, to braking, energy harvesting, sensor technology and digital systems, the institute aims to optimise the efficiency, performance and safety of high speed rail.

It will also work alongside other institutions in the North to help address the skills gap to support rail industry growth.

The development of the new centre comes as the area is targeted for major economic growth from the HS2 construction project, with the HS2 rolling stock depot also located to the east of Leeds.

Iain Roche, head of innovation for HS2, said: "The creation of world-leading facilities so close to the HS2 depot to the east of Leeds will accelerate the vehicle and systems integration testing process, and advance the UK’s vision of creating a high speed railway that will support regional growth, create jobs and rebalance the economy."

Professor Lisa Roberts, deputy vice-chancellor of research and innovation at the University of Leeds, added: "This is a timely investment in this institute, supporting not only the development and construction of the UK’s high speed network, but also positioning the region and the UK as pioneers in modern high speed rail technologies. 

“We now have a genuine opportunity to forge ahead and be a global leader in a high speed rail market that is expanding rapidly across the world.”

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: "The new Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration at the University of Leeds is a really exciting development which will establish Leeds as a centre of excellence for high-speed rail on a world level. 

“It will not only enhance our strengths in civil engineering, rail manufacturing, transport studies and infrastructure development services but will also drive growth through inward investment, aiding regeneration and job creation through the supply chain.

“As well as being a fantastic asset for the city and region in terms of learning and specialist skills development, the potential for it to grow into an advanced manufacturing and engineering research hub generating and supporting university spin-outs means it also has a key role to play as an economic driver.”