Transport Research Laboratory

TRL Limited[1]
Private company limited by guarantee[2]
IndustryAutomotive transport, roads, engineering, insurance, urban environment, rail travel, motorsport[2]
PredecessorsRoad Research Laboratory (RRL), then
Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL)[3]
Founded1933; 86 years ago (1933), in Harmondsworth, West Drayton, Greater London, United Kingdom
as the Road Research Laboratory[2][3]
HeadquartersCrowthorne House,
Nine Mile Ride,
RG40 3GA[1]
Area served
Key people
Rob Wallis (Chief Executive Officer)[4]
ProductsVarious transport related items, including software, legform impactors, safety certification rigs
ServicesEngineering, research, consultancy, testing, certification, training, software development
OwnerTransport Research Foundation[2][5]
Number of employees
approx. 320[6]

TRL Limited, trading as TRL,[1] and colloquially known as the Transport Research Laboratory, is a fully independent private company offering a transport consultancy and research service to the public and private sector.[2] Originally established in 1933; 86 years ago (1933), by the UK Government as the Road Research Laboratory (RRL), it was privatised in 1996.[2] Its motto or tagline is 'The Future of Transport'.[2]


TRL was originally established in 1933 by the UK Government as the Road Research Laboratory (RRL)[3] under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), and later became the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL)[2] in 1972.[3]

During the Second World War, the Laboratory contributed to the war effort.[3] Among its contributions, under William Glanville, were research that aided the development of plastic armour, the bouncing bomb[3] and the Disney bomb.

During governmental reorganisation in the 1970s, the TRRL moved from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the Department of the Environment (DoE).[7]

At the TRRL, Frank Blackmore developed the mini-roundabout and its associated 'priority rule',[3] which was adopted in 1975.

With the encouragement of the UK Department of Transport, TRRL was instrumental in promoting cooperation with other European laboratories.[8] In 1989, TRRL's initiative to create a Forum of European National Highway Research Laboratories led to its hosting of the inaugural meeting.

It became an executive agency of the UK Department for Transport (DfT) in 1992, and changed its name for the last time to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).[3]

It was privatised in 1996,[2][3] though earlier plans in 1994 for a proposed privatisation were criticised at the time,[9] notably by former Transport Minister Barbara Castle.[10][11]

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