Investment partner planned for UK’s first railway testing facility

An agency of the Welsh government has issued a prior information notice (PIN) seeking views on plans to appoint an investment partner to support the delivery of the first purpose-built large scale rail testing facility in the UK.

Global Centre of Rail Excellence (Credit: Welsh Government)

The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) is a planned new site on a 700 hectare-site located within the Powys and Neath Port Talbot local authorities. It is being delivered by GCRE Ltd, which is wholly owned by the Welsh government.

GCRE Ltd will appoint a joint venture partner to act as a strategic investor for the project, which will establish a railway infrastructure and rolling stock testing, proving, demonstration and storage facility.

Phase one, covering ground works, site preparation and other functions, is already underway using public funding, but phase two will see private investment deployed to deliver the development of the rail infrastructure, including construction of a rolling stock testing track (outer loop track length 6.9km), an infrastructure testing track (inner loop with track length of 4km), additional storage and maintenance facilities, and the required building and civil works to make the site fully operational.

Public funding of £70m is already committed, while private investment of £330m is to be sought, with part of that money being provided as equity by the strategic investor, and the rest through debt. The private partner will take majority ownership and control of GCRE Ltd, work alongside existing management and provide support necessary to achieve successful delivery of the project.

A contract notice is anticipated to be published on 18 January 2023. To see the full PIN, click here.