Awards, contracts & appointments

06.12.18

Rail Sector Deal: Three new Midlands pilots launched to help SMEs and share data

Given its position in the “heart of the rail industry,” the Midlands will play host to pilots on a new rail data platform, a scheme supporting high-potential SMEs, and a skills programme to stimulate apprenticeships.

The DfT said the region will lead on the three separate pilots in order to move forward the ambitions of the Rail Sector Deal, launched today by industry partners.

Data-sharing pilots

The data-sharing platform will help the Midlands Engine paint a complete picture of rail user experience, needs, and appetite.

It forms a key part of the sector deal’s main ambition to improve the safe use and sharing of data in order to boost operations and customer experience. The government eventually hopes that a national data platform will enable information to be spread widely across different modes of transport and infrastructure systems in order to enable innovation and customer-focused products.

The industry will also be tasked with developing ways to incentivise and stimulate innovation around the use of data through an “evolving ecosystem.” However, this will be implemented in a phased approach rather than all at once, with small local pilot schemes starting in the East Midlands.

“To support this, as part of the sector deal, the government will be responsible for promoting the role of ‘Platform Sponsor’ – managing the fundamental rules of the data sharing platform and its capabilities, working closely with train and freight operating companies as well as new entrants to the market,” the report said.

“This will ensure the platform is managed and used securely, responsibly and ethically, while maintaining confidentiality, protecting information that is genuinely commercially sensitive.”

Up to £5m of existing innovation funds will be reallocated over three years, to be match-funded by the industry. There is a potential for the RDG, RSSB, UKRRIN, and Transport Systems Catapult to collaborate on developing the platform.

Helping SMEs get to the next level

The second pilot will help high-potential SMEs in the supply chain “to get to the next level.”

The Midlands-led pilot will kickstart the change needed to make the deal a reality, specifically in relation to practical activities that can harness collaboration between the sector and the government.

The trial will see industry providing strategic guidance and support to SMEs in order to help develop their people.

“Building on strong foundations, the Midlands has the potential to deliver much more for the railway and for the UK,” explained the report. “The challenge is to build on existing expertise whilst developing new technologies and products, becoming more efficient, attracting more investment and delivering a strong, sustainable and high-value economy.”

As part of the pilot, partners from across the Midlands’ aerospace, rail, and automotive sectors will come together with data and digital companies from the UK and overseas in order to increase the number of SMEs in the supply chain and support greater levels of innovation.

“Through regular collaboration, the Rail Sector Deal can develop skills within SMEs, helping them grow their businesses and provide the opportunity to develop of new products and services for future railways,” said the report.

Involving SMEs in apprenticeships

In order to support the government’s apprenticeship ambitions, Midlands partners – facilitated by Rail Forum Midlands – will trial a pilot of shared apprenticeships and schools engagement, which will hopefully encourage SME involvement in shaping the skills requirements and deliver the message of “rail as a dynamic career choice for a new generation of learners.”

The shared apprenticeship programme aims to increase the number of SMEs recruiting apprentices, the amount of apprenticeships offered, and the impact and coordination of regional schools engagement activities.

“The lessons learned from this process will enable industry and the government to roll out a tested programme elsewhere in the UK,” the DfT explained.

Investment and innovation in rail in the Midlands will be central to next year’s TransCityRail Midlands, an exclusive event for SMEs and businesses to network with the supply chain. Don’t miss your chance to attend, visit the website here.

 

Image credit: Ross Jukes Photography

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Rail industry launches new interactive accessibly map for UK rail stations

17/04/2019Rail industry launches new interactive accessibly map for UK rail stations

A new interactive map which lets passengers find out about accessibility at stations has been launched by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to help b... more >
Helium balloons causing ‘increasing number of train delays’ at cost of £1m

17/04/2019Helium balloons causing ‘increasing number of train delays’ at cost of £1m

Helium-filled balloons are causing hundreds of train delays at a cost of £1m in taxpayer money every year, Network Rail has revealed. ... more >
Dawlish sea wall gets council planning approval with construction to begin in May

17/04/2019Dawlish sea wall gets council planning approval with construction to begin in May

Plans for an £80m sea wall to protect the Dawlish coastal rail line from extreme weather have been by approved by Teignbridge District Coun... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

West Midlands Rail Executive’s Malcolm Holmes on the 30 year Rail Investment Strategy and working with Midlands Connect

08/04/2019West Midlands Rail Executive’s Malcolm Holmes on the 30 year Rail Investment Strategy and working with Midlands Connect

Malcolm Holmes, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Rail Executive, joins us to discuss the 30-year Rail Investment Strategy, and how he and his team are working closely with Midlands Connect to deliver on uplifting capacity and bettering services for people across the region ahead of TCR Midlands 2019. What do your roles as Ex... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Changing the London skyline with HS2

26/03/2019Changing the London skyline with HS2

Lisa Hogben, HS2 programme delivery manager for area south enabling works, explains how the arrival of HS2’s first tower cranes shows chang... more >
Picking up the pace with high-speed track handovers

26/03/2019Picking up the pace with high-speed track handovers

In 2018 Steve Featherstone, programme director of track at Network Rail, set his team a challenge to secure 100 high-speed track handovers in a y... more >
26-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

19/03/201926-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

After a nine-month national trial, the rail industry launched its seventh National Railcard for 26-30-year-olds on 2 January 2019. Rail Delivery ... more >
Caledonian Sleeper: a railway icon re-imagined

19/03/2019Caledonian Sleeper: a railway icon re-imagined

The world-renowned Caledonian Sleeper, due to begin operations at the end of spring 2019, completed its first Scotland to London journey earlier ... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >