Rail transport faces huge present and future challenges for which innovation and step changes are necessary. Based on its mission, UIC initiated the UIC Rail Research & Innovation Awards in 2012. On 7 December, the 5th Award ceremony was held as part of the UIC General Assembly.
The submissions for 2018 have been evaluated by the jury, consisting of the members of the IRRB (International Rail Research Board). From over 70 interesting submissions, six winners have been chosen – one for each of the thematic categories – in addition, two excellent researchers have been awarded in two honorary categories.
One of the two honorary categories is the “UIC Lifetime Achievement Award”, presented to the person who has dedicated his life to research for the sake of innovation of the railway system. The recipient of this prestigious award for 2018 is Prof. Mark Robinson of the UK Newcastle University and Director of the Newcastle Centre for Rail Research – NewRail.
As he was unable to attend the above-mentioned ceremony, the Award was presented to him by Dr Ir. Andrzej Żurkowski, Director of the Polish Railway Research Institute – IK - and Vice-Chairman of the IRRB during an IRRB Working Group meeting in Warsaw.
On receiving the UIC Award, Prof. Robinson added these words: “I am thrilled and honoured to receive this Life Time Achievement Award and am happy to accept it on behalf of myself and all colleagues past and present in NewRail - the Centre for Railway Research at Newcastle University. Without the support of my colleagues and the tremendous team work that has been part and parcel of our research work and projects at Newcastle this would not have been possible. This recognition comes with some responsibility and that is to ensure that I support the International Rail Research Board (IRRB) in keeping up with the remarkably fast technological development and help drive the railway sector into further innovation. I am very grateful to the UIC for this prestigious award”.
Professor Robinson established NewRail as the Centre for Railway Research at Newcastle University in 2004 after the transfer of all research staff and ongoing projects from ARRC at the University of Sheffield. Its aim is to deliver high quality and relevant university research, information, training and consultancy to meet the complex technological and managerial challenges of the rail industry, regulators, operators and customers. Working at both national and international levels it has established strong research and consultancy links with railway operators and manufacturers. At the University of Newcastle, he has tutored and accompanied many excellent researchers towards receiving their PhD in rail-related technology.
His main research interests include the development and application of lightweight materials for rail vehicles and crashworthy composite structures. In 2009 he received the Institute of Mechanical Engineers Safety Award and the Alfred Rosling Bennett/Charles S Lake Award for his work on aluminium weld unzipping. He is currently also the Group Lead for Future Mobility at Newcastle University.
He has been actively involved in the UIC International Rail Research Board – IRRB - since 2011 and is now a Vice Chairman. He has been involved in the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) since 2008. He has contributed extensively including the preparation of ERRAC proposals such as ERRAC Roadmaps, FOSTER RAIL and more recently SETRIS. He has many esteem indicators such as Evaluator and Member of the Hearings panel for DG Research of the European Commission. He is co-author of “Rail Vision 2050”, published by UNIFE, to provide a common vision for European Rail Research. As a Member of the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) Steering Committee he contributed to the ROADMAPS and in 2002 co-authored “A Joint Strategy for European Rail Research-2020 - Towards a Single European Rail System”, published by UNIFE. This initial document attempted to provide a common vision for European Rail Research.
In January 2015 he was elected President of the European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) – January 2015 to January 2017. In December 2016 he was re-elected President for his final term to January 2019. The European Conference of Transport Research Institute’s members are the major transport research institutes from 19 European countries, accounting for more than 4000 European scientific and research staff in the field of transport.
In 2014-2018 he was honoured by the China High End Foreign Experts Programme and in 2016 he was awarded 100 Talents from Fujian Province, both for transport research activities. Since 2014 he has been a Guest Professor at the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering, Xiamen University of Technology, China.
He has also been the Chairman of Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society since 2016 with a remit to preserve and maintain the only surviving railway roundhouse in the United Kingdom with an operational turntable. This is achieved by providing support to the group of dedicated volunteers who have transformed it into a unique railway museum and events venue.
In the past five years he has been involved with over 200 international partners in rail projects with a total project value in excess of 100 million euros. In many of these projects, he has been working in close cooperation with UIC, for example in SPECTRUM, HERMES, D-RAIL, MARATHON, SUSTRAIL, INNOTRACK, ERRAC ROADMAP, FOSTERRAIL, SETRIS and many others. He and his team have won many international awards for their outstanding work.
UIC would like to congratulate Prof. Robinson on his achievements leading up to this “Lifetime Achievement Award”!