Heriot-Watt University is to be part of a new national research hub that will help to upgrade and decarbonise the UK’s complex and interconnected national, regional and local transport infrastructures and to adapt to the effects of climate change.
The new Research Hub for Decarbonised Adaptable and Resilient Transport Infrastructures (DARe) is led by Newcastle University and brings together the universities of Cambridge, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt as partner institutions.
Funding of £10 million has been awarded to the hub for the next 3.5 years by the Department for Transport and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK government funder of research.
This is a flagship project that will bring together research, early-stage innovation and demonstrations across different transport modes.Professor Phil Greening, Heriot-Watt University
Transport is the largest contributor to UK domestic greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also the engine of economic growth. To meet net zero emissions by 2050 and protect the economy, it is crucial that the UK’s transport infrastructure evolves to meet the challenges of climate change, whether that is flooding or extreme heat.
DARe will identify pathways and solutions for delivering a resilient, net-zero transport system that works for people and communities. It will host world-leading researchers who will provide expertise, modelling and data tailored to each area and each transport challenge.
Professor Phil Greening, an expert in sustainable transport and logistics at Heriot-Watt University, said: “This is a flagship project that will bring together research, early-stage innovation and demonstrations across different transport modes and work in close partnership with businesses, communities, government departments and administrations throughout the UK.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The UK is cementing its position as a world-leader in net zero tech with this new investment into climate resilience. This Hub will be a centre of academic excellence, helping us keep our transport network resilient into the future.”
Professor Miles Padgett, Interim Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UKRI, said: “A well-functioning low carbon transport infrastructure is vital to sustain communities and economies.
“This investment in the climate resilient development of our transport system will keep the UK at the forefront of the green industrial revolution and accelerate the transition to a secure and prosperous green economy.”
Professor Phil Blythe CBE, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems, and head of the Future Mobility Group, Newcastle University, said: “The hub will engage widely to bring together the leading academics from across the UK and their civic and industry partners so we can focus on understanding the underpinning science and engineering to enable us to tackle these real challenges and provide the models that will help us understand the impact and find the most appropriate solutions.”
Heriot-Watt University and the University of Glasgow are leading a separate, but related UK-wide consultation about how digital technologies can accelerate the decarbonisation of transport.
The Twinning for Decarbonising Project, or TransiT, will involve to creating digital twins of the UK transport infrastructure, which can be used to model different net zero scenarios.
Digital twins are sophisticated computer simulations of real-life objects, processes or systems which can help guide decisions about how their performance can be improved. This allows for rapid simulation of many alternative future scenarios to guide technology investments.
TransiT is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UKRI and the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK.