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More rail research needed, says DETR

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FALLING QUALITY of railway research since rail privatisation has prompted the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions to seek a national rail research strategy co-ordinator.

The DETR is calling for companies or universities to develop and co- ordinate a research strategy that will allow policy makers to prioritise efforts. The strategy must also integrate with the DETR's Foresight Initiative work on other transport modes.

Government and research council EPSRC is concerned about 'the limited number, quality and scope' of railway research projects under way. Rail Research Strategy Steering Group chairman Howard Wyborn said: 'While some good research has been promoted, the perception is that much of this has been focused on short-term commercial needs or has been scheme or company specific.'

He added: 'The steering group believes there is a need for a co-ordinated approach so that the complex relationships between the many research topics and technologies can be better understood and so that common priorities can be established.'

The strategy must address the medium and long term needs of Britain's rail network and will need to be presented in the context of the integrated transport policy.

Expressions of interest are called for from commercial organisations, consortia or academic institutions with a detailed knowledge of the rail industry and experience in transport or the regulated utilities.

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