The GLOBAL Center of Rail Excellence (GCRE) has launched a procurement process inviting investors around the world to take an equity stake in its venture and support the next phase of development of a rail innovation and test center in South Wales.
With site clearance underway, construction is expected to begin early next year for the purpose-built facility to be fully operational in 2025, funded by a £50 million capital commitment from the Welsh Government.
In addition, the UK government has committed £20m of capital to GCRE and a further £7.4m is being provided through national research and development agency Innovate UK.
GCRE is currently 100% owned by the Welsh Government and is currently seeking a strategic investor who would take a majority and controlling stake in the company.
A single investor or consortium of investors would fund the Innovation Center through to completion, playing “a lead role in the successful and timely implementation of the project, as well as the continued commercialization of the GCRE opportunity,” according to the GCRE.
Other phases of potential investment include developing the wider commercial potential of the 700 ha GCRE site to accommodate a new technology park and hotel.
The cost to build the new test track is £250m, says GCRE, while the total investment for the project is £400m, including initial property development and power supply electric traction.
EY is acting as financial advisor and Ashurst as legal advisor to GCRE in the search for a strategic investor.
GCRE will host an event in London on December 7 to further discuss this opportunity with potential strategic investors.
“Our plan has always been to work with private sector partners to seek their investment and most importantly their knowledge and skills in key areas such as rail and energy to realize the exciting vision of GCRE as partners strategies,” said GCRE Director General, Mr. Simon Jones.
“With the launch of a procurement process this week, we want to encourage partners around the world to review our project and recognize the strong investment opportunity it represents.”
According to Jones, the GCRE project has already generated considerable interest throughout the rail industry.
“Manufacturers and key players in the rail supply chain see the opportunity to test and refine their products at a world-class site, helping them become more commercially successful and supporting the vital work of the industry. industry needed to achieve Net Zero,” he said.
“It’s this interest that helps make GCRE such a strong business proposition.”
In addition, GCRE has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore to collaborate and build capacity for the development of train test centers in Singapore and Great Britain.
LTA is currently building its own Integrated Train Test Center (ITTC)including a high-speed test track which should welcome its first trains next year.
Under the MoU, LTA and GCRE will exchange information and share best practices in areas such as design and engineering, asset management and operational aspects of train test centers.
The two parties will also organize secondments and other talent exchange opportunities to participate in the work of the project, as well as technical visits to railway facilities and sites in Britain.
“We will work together in good faith to review, discuss and compare our approach so that we can share our technical expertise and research and development knowledge,” Jones says.
“It’s collaborations like this that will help us develop the world’s best center of excellence that will ultimately benefit the industry as a whole.”