Rail franchises operators & contracts


Government releases £3.6m fund for ‘new ideas and high value innovations’

The government has revealed details of 10 projects which will receive a share of £3.6m as part of plans to support new innovations in the rail sector.

Among the winning bids are projects aimed at improving the design of carriages to increase seating; developing technology to help visually-impaired people find their seats; and creating augmented reality applications that highlight a journey’s landmarks.

The information was released today as part of the government’s Innovate UK scheme, which looks to develop new ideas to modernise the country’s industrial sectors.

Announcing the funding, rail minister Jo Johnson said the innovations could lead to “more frequent services” and “quicker, more comfortable journeys.”

“While we have introduced real-time platform information, taken big strides on safety and improved how we manage our railways to accommodate more services on existing tracks, the pace of change can sometimes be slower than we would like to see,” Johnson explained.

“[The] funding is part of a wider programme of activities to speed up the delivery of new ideas and high-value innovations, which can have a big impact on passengers’ journeys.”

The majority of companies across the country have received around £350,000 as part of the First of a Kind scheme, although one has been given around £100,000 less, equalling the £3.6m total which the government is offering.

Ian Meikle, director of infrastructure systems at Innovate UK, commented: “The UK railway is carrying more and more passengers, and they rightly demand improvements to their journeys. What we are announcing today are tangible innovations, which each in their own way will make train travel better.”

The First of a Kind initiative is the second in a number of schemes announced by the government arms-length body, including another £7.9m fund earmarked as ‘Accelerating Innovation in Rail’, which involves the development of projects such as miniaturised hybrid powercells and new technology to improve efficiency on electrical trains.

More information about the winning bids and their innovation plans is available on here.

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J, Leicester   19/02/2018 at 10:59

" Among the winning bids are projects aimed at improving the design of carriages to increase seating..." How about lengthening platforms and trains instead of exploring sardine-can efficiency? While we're at it, give me £250,000 and I'll introduce the radical innovation of window-aligned seats!

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