Predict your next investment

ENERGY & UTILITIES
celticenergy.com

See what CB Insights has to offer

Stage

Acquired | Acquired

About Celtic Energy

Celtic Energy is an energy consulting firm that specializes in energy project management and oversight.

Celtic Energy Headquarter Location

437 Naubuc Ave. Suite 106

Glastonbury, Connecticut, 06033,

United States

860-882-1515

Latest Celtic Energy News

What is the £150m Global Centre of Rail Excellence project

Apr 2, 2021

The £150m Global Centre of Rail Excellence project explained It will be the world's first integrated testing facility for both rail infrastructure and rolling stock 08:37, 2 APR 2021 The video will auto-play soon8Cancel Play now Subscribe When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for subscribingWe have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice It’s a flagship Welsh Government project, but what is the planned £150m Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) project? The scheme has been earmarked for a 1,000-hectare site covering the Nant Helen opencast mine, which is in the process of being decommissioned by its owner Celtic Energy, and the Onllwyn coal washery at the head of the Dulais and Tawe Valleys. It straddles the local authority areas of Neath Port Talbot and Powys, who are partners in the project with the Welsh Government. It will feature inner and outer looped electrified testing tracks and associated infrastructure such as rolling stock storage, maintenance and sidings, as well as a control centre and space for related R&D, education and training purposes. It will not only test new rolling stock, including high-speed trains and any advances in new technologies such as hydrogen-powered rolling stock, but crucially also rail infrastructure such as signalling and points. There aren’t currently any testing facilities in the world that provide both a rail and rolling stock testing solution. This integrated offer will be at the heart of the GCRE’s unique selling point. How did the project evolve? In the process of overseeing the bidding process for the devolved Wales and Borders rail franchise, the Welsh Government, through its transport body Transport for Wales, held discussions with leading train manufacturers and rail operating companies. From that came the realisation that they all faced the same challenge, namely a lack of testing facility capacity. In the UK there is the Rail Innovation & Development Centre, owned by Network Rail, at Melton Mowbray in the Midlands, with a linear disused line. However, it is hugely oversubscribed by the likes of train manufacturer Bombardier. The biggest facility in Europe is the Velim operation in the Czech Republic, with its high-speed loop. Read More With its long waiting list, the Velim facility charges five-figure sums to rent the track for eight hours. However, that is not the only cost as the train operators have to spend tens of thousands of pounds getting their rolling stock there in the first place. Siemens also has its own facility at Wegberg-Wildernrath in Germany. So the Welsh Government, with industry experts in an advisory role, have rightly identified a lack of rolling stock and rail infrastructure testing facilities, which the GCRE is well-placed to exploit. It also fits neatly into a more strategic approach of investing in infrastructure which helps to attract investment and firms into Wales, rather than the old approach of just offering direct financial support. Why was the site chosen? The site is connected to the existing rail network, which is critically important, and also has “very understanding” neighbours, as the GCRE intends to operate 24 hours a day. There also aren’t that many sites in the UK with the necessary space to provide 1,000 hectares of mainly flat land connected to the rail network. As part of the remediation of the opencast mine, Celtic Energy secured planning approvals from both Powys and Neath Port Talbot councils last summer for earthworks. The Welsh Government has been working closely with Celtic Energy to get the project’s planning consent to this stage. A third and final application, which will be submitted this week to the local authorities, will seek approval to build the track and associated infrastructure and allow it to operate 24 hours a day. What it will provide? The GCRE site The first project, that is expected to be completed by 2023, is an inner “kidney-shaped” 4.5-kilometre looped track. There will also be a larger outer looped track, extending to 6.9 kilometres, and to the south-east associated infrastructure. The inner track, known as high tonnage infrastructure testing loop, will allow for the testing of rail infrastructure such as signals and points, as well as new track designs. This infrastructure cannot be tested on a live railway because there isn’t a safe way of doing it. The internal track will have a wagon travelling around at 40mph, putting new infrastructure through its paces with rigorous assessment. When owner of the UK rail network Network Rail, which is committed to using the facility, wants to test equipment it has to use the Pueblo testing centre in Colorado, as do equivalent organisations in Europe. The Welsh Government has already had what it describes as “promising conversations” with potential customers, so is confident of a regular revenue stream associated with the high tonnage testing loop. That is why it is keen to deliver it as the first GCRE project. While the inner track will be able to test trains at 40mph, which is equivalent to the speed of a London Underground vehicle, its primary focus will be on testing rail infrastructure and interfaces. The outer loop, allowing speeds of 110mph, will be able to test high-speed trains, as well as new developments in rolling stock technology such as hydrogen trains. When testing high-speed rolling stock, they don’t need to operate at full speeds. The GCRE will be able to conduct 90% of the required tests and validation processes of rail vehicles, with the remainder being conducted in a live network environment. At 110mph, the outer loop will allow trains to travel faster than the existing rail network in Wales allows. While rolling stock often grabs the headlines, of the £100bn spend committed to the HS2 rail project from London to Birmingham, before reaching northern cities such as Manchester and Leeds, the track and associated infrastructure will take up more than 95% of the cost. The GCRE is well-placed to support the testing of high-speed rail infrastructure, as well as its rolling stock. Network Rail’s testing facility at Melton Mowbray has an accumulated impact per annum of 0.5 mega tonnes. To put that into context, the GCRE will be able to absorb up to 50 mega tonnes a year. This compares to, say, the busiest sections of the West Coast Mainline, which absorbs around 100 mega tonnes per year. Jobs boost As the project is in one of the most deprived parts of Wales, the Welsh Government is keen to create well-paid employment opportunities with around 150 direct jobs anticipated, but hundreds more in the supply chain. The Siemens rail testing facility supports around 500 related jobs in Germany. Jobs will also be created in the phased construction of the GCRE. Funding Each phase has an indicative price tag of £50m, so taking the overall project to around £150m. The Welsh Government last month announced it is providing a £50m loan to partner in the project Powys Council. Longer-term, although no firm plans have been drawn up, the Welsh Government is expected to divest from the project while perhaps retaining a small equity stake for the taxpayer. Celtic Energy will have a small equity stake of around 5%. Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates first wrote to then UK Government Business Minister Alok Sharma seeking a financial contribution to the project in January last year. Things then went pretty quiet, before Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £30m contribution from the Westminster Government in his Budget. The funding commitment did take the Welsh Government a little bit by surprise. It is understood that Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart lobbied hard for a contribution, helped by the fact that the Chancellor needed to make some positive funding announcement for Wales in his Budget. The Welsh Government is, though, seeking clarification on the funding to see if there are any strings attached, but on the surface of things this doesn’t appear to be the case. So while the Welsh Government could have funded or secured other sources of finance for the project in its entirety, the backing from Boris Johnson’s administration, which is likely to be provided in phases, is a welcome development. The UK Government is also expected to play a key role in promoting the facility, which based on early conservative projections is expected to generate revenues of at least £20m a year. A new company, with a leading industry figure as chair, is being set up to oversee the delivery of the project for the Welsh Government. All elements of the project are scheduled for completion by 2025. Most Recent Most Recent

Predict your next investment

The CB Insights tech market intelligence platform analyzes millions of data points on venture capital, startups, patents , partnerships and news mentions to help you see tomorrow's opportunities, today.

CB Insights uses Cookies

CBI websites generally use certain cookies to enable better interactions with our sites and services. Use of these cookies, which may be stored on your device, permits us to improve and customize your experience. You can read more about your cookie choices at our privacy policy here. By continuing to use this site you are consenting to these choices.