Rail service improvements and disruptions

17.06.20

Government funding awarded to revolutionary rail projects

The Department for Transport, in partnership with Innovate UK, has today (June 17th) announced 25 pioneering projects have been awarded a share of £9.4m in the 2020 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, which encourages innovation in the rail industry.

Numerous inventors and thinkers have come forward with an array of ambitious projects to transform rail travel, including low-energy concrete slabs that automatically heat up in cold conditions to help prevent passengers from slipping on icy platforms and the Seatfrog Train Swap app, which will let passengers quickly and remotely update their seat reservation to another service.  

Additional winning projects will also help the government lessen the railway’s environmental impact and support decarbonisation, including a world-first zero emission machine for removing and replacing rails, and hydrogen-based steam turbines to provide zero-emission, low-noise rail freight.  

The competition is now in its fourth year and was open to organisations of all sizes and sectors whose technologies could help to create a greener, more cost effective and customer-friendly railway with greater capacity.

Previous winners include new technology from Porterbrook in partnership with emissions specialist Eminox, which successfully reduces harmful emissions from diesel trains by over 90%.

South Western Railway completed a six-month trail in March of the technology that saw an emissions reduction system fitted to the exhaust of a Class 159 train used by passengers between Waterloo and Exeter.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I am delighted to announce the winners of this year’s FOAK competition, which will support better, more environmentally friendly journeys. Crucially, these pioneering projects will also ensure that passengers have a more efficient, reliable and responsive railway, making their journeys simpler and easier.

“From clever technology on platforms to prevent icy surfaces, new ‘seat-switching’ apps and improved 5G wifi connections, harnessing innovation will be crucial to modernising the network and making our railways greener and cleaner, as we build beyond Covid-19 and look to the future.”

Executive Chair of Innovate UK, Ian Campbell said: “These high-quality projects illustrate the appetite of UK organisations to develop new and exciting innovations for rail transport that improve customers’ user experience, optimise railway efficiency, and are environmentally sustainable.”

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