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Testing Times—New Exhibition Opens at National Railway Museum

New, free exhibition opens 12 October, featuring the UK’s first Hyperloop pod and the latest railway technology.

The UK’s first Hyperloop pod, a 170mph train catapult and an Elizabeth Line test stationall highlights of a new exhibition opening at the National Railway Museum in York.

Called Testing, the exhibition opens 12 October 2018 until 28 April 2019 and explores innovation and engineering in the rail industry, bringing people face-to-face with technology from major projects such as Crossrail and HS2.

The exhibition invites people to go behind the scenes and to step inside the laboratories and test stations where new ideas and rail technologies are put through their paces.

There are five themed areas to explore each featuring a different story and narrated by a real test engineer who works on the project.

The first area introduces one of the world’s fastest train testing rigs based at the University of Birmingham which is used to test the aerodynamic properties of the latest high-speed trains. The rig uses a large rubber catapult to propel scale models at speeds of up to 170 mph and features 30 fans which can create gusts of up to 25 mph.

Visitors will discover some of the important and potentially life-saving results of this research including how to prevent sonic booms from forming when trains enter tunnels.

The second area introduces research which enables engineers from HS2the UK’s newest high-speed railwayto know where to lay track, dig tunnels and build bridges. Before the first piece of track can be laid, ground from depths of up to 100m must be tested to ensure it is sufficiently stable. Visitors will see diamond-tipped drill bits used to collect samples and will find out about the biggest ground investigation project ever undertaken in Britain.

The third area houses the UK’s first Hyperloop prototype developed at the University of Edinburgh. The experimental technology uses magnetic levitation to float a passenger pod through a tube at speeds of up to 650 mph. Developed by students from the University’s HYPED team, the experimental craft nicknamed Poddy McPodface, is at an early stage, but could represent the future of passenger travel.

HYPED have taken part in several international competitions to develop the Hyperloop technologyechoing the historic Rainhill Trials of 1829 won by Stephenson’s world-famous Rocket.

Step inside the exhibition’s fourth area and visitors will be transported deep below the capital’s streets to see how every aspect of stations on the new Elizabeth Line are rigorously tested. Built to last 120 years, the stations must be durable enough to repel everything from spilt coffee and tomato sauce to hair wax. Visitors will also discover the ‘science of sitting’ on the Elizabeth Line’s test bench, one of several versions used to create the perfect design.

The final area will bring visitors face-to-face with an external replica cab from the Hitachi Rail Class 800the UK’s most advanced high-speed train. Built in Newton Aycliffe near Darlington, four teams of technicians have 38 days to ensure every part of the new train is rigorously tested and works correctly.

The trains are capable of both diesel and electric power, run on the Great Western Railway and are due to enter service on the East Coast Main Line (running through York) in 2019. They will replace the familiar InterCity 125s, some of which are now 40 years old.

Charlotte, Kingston, Head of Interpretation and Design at the National Railway Museum, said:

“New technology is shaping the trains and stations of the future. Engineers, architects and scientists are pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible to improve how we travel, taking us further, faster and more safely. Innovation on the railways doesn’t just happen and we need people to ask big questions and to use their engineering skills to experiment, prototype and find the answer.

“Testing is our first exhibition in almost a year and it has been created in partnership with the rail industry to give visitors a unique snapshot into the rigorous and intensive research and development that goes on behind the scenes.”

The exhibition is part of the Government’s Year of Engineering campaign which aims to reach and inspire more people to develop an interest in science and engineering.

The National Railway Museum is open 10am to 6pm, admission to the museum and the Testing exhibition is free.

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For more information, please contact:

Simon Baylis, PR & Communications Manager
01904 686 299

About the National Railway Museum

  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 750,000 visitors per year
  • The collection includes over 260 locomotives and rolling stock, 600 coins and medals as well as railway uniform and costume, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs
  • The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion in Shildon
  • Admission to the National Railway Museum is free, for more information visit:
  • Visitors to the National Railway Museum this autumn will also be able to take part in Future Engineers which returns for a third year, providing hands on activities and the chance to meet 100 engineers from across the rail industry
  • From 18 October until the new year, visitors will be able to see the advanced engineering of a previous era, when world-famous locomotive Flying Scotsman returns to the museum to go on public display