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Government launches £3.5m competition to drive innovations in rail

The Department for Transport has launched a competition to inject £3.5m into innovative ideas to transform rail.

The First of a Kind (FOAK) competition is searching for existing innovations which may be in use outside of the rail industry, but could benefit rail passengers.

The competition is part of DfT’s wider Accelerating Innovation in Rail (AIR) scheme, which is aimed at introducing creative ways to improve the rail passenger’s experience.

Whereas AIR develops ideas from concept, FOAK seeks ideas which have already been successfully implemented in the real world, and could be transferred to the rail industry.

Under the scheme, passengers will be able to use them in trials and give feedback.

The first challenge in the FOAK competition invites organisations to bid for funding for technology not previously used on rolling stock, and investigate how they could be integrated.

Different aspects of the railway network will be focussed on through the competition.

Paul Maynard, rail minister, said: “As well as encouraging innovative ideas from concept, we want to help develop existing ideas that can be transferred successfully to the rail industry for the benefit of passengers.

“The aim of government, train operators and infrastructure managers is to put passengers at the heart of everything we do.

“If we can help fund development of these inventive and ground-breaking ideas then this will help support the biggest modernisation programme in rail since the Victorian era.”

Chair of the Rail Supply Group, Gordon Wakeford, added: “The rail supply sector is continually seeking to improve the passenger experience by developer new and better products and solutions.

“This competition will provide a stimulus for the many innovative companies in our sector to develop new and ground-breaking ways to enhance rail journeys.

“I am confident that the rail industry will rise to this challenge with commitment and creativity.”

Ian Meikle, director - infrastructure systems at Innovate UK, who are running the competition, said: “We want to unlock the talent of UK companies to demonstrate tomorrow’s trains today.

“This first of a kind competition will result in tangible, realistic prototypes that have the potential to meet the challenges of passenger journeys.”

Registration for the competition closes at midday on 22 November 2017.


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