Construction technology company hyperTunnel has won UK government funding for its innovative railway underpass at the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) in South Wales.  

The project scheduled to be demonstrated at GCRE’s Dulais Valley site is said to be one of 16 schemes selected for their standout railway innovations. 

The underpass project will showcase hyperTunnel’s swarm construction technique, which uses AI, digital surveying, and swarm robotics.  

This method allows for the effective 3D printing of a structure underground before any excavation begins. 

The underground construction project is designed to be both faster and less costly. 

It is intended to have reduced risk, less disruption and waste, along with a lower carbon footprint compared to existing cut-and-cover methods. 

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By GlobalData

The initiative also seeks to provide a safer and more economically viable alternative to level crossings, as well as increase rail capacity without inconveniencing road and rail users. 

As part of the demonstration, hyperTunnel will construct a 20m-long pedestrian-sized tunnel beneath a test track at GCRE.  

The design ensures that the track above can remain operational throughout the construction process. 

hyperTunnel co-founder Steve Jordan said: “We are delighted that the GCRE sees the same potential in the hyperTunnel method as our partners in the construction industry. Having spent many hundreds of hours developing our robot fleet in the lab in Basingstoke, the system is now ripe for being proven on a real site, in accelerated test conditions, and which can be visited by interested parties.  

“The GCRE facility is going to be a huge opportunity for us and we can’t wait to get started and to present a feasible technological solution to the longstanding level-crossing issue.” 

GCRE, currently under development, is a facility for rail research, testing, and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure, and new technologies being developed in South Wales. 

Spanning 700ha, GCRE is expected to serve as a hub for rail and mobility innovation.