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Three industry giants split £6m RSSB innovation funding

First Great Western, Arriva UK Trains and Govia Thameslink Railways will share £6m from a collaborative innovation fund as part of the first phase of RSSB’s Train Operator Competition 2015 (TOC’2015).

They will now progress to stage 2, during which they will submit detailed plans for their customer-focused projects as outlined in their original competition submissions.

Arriva UK Trains wants to do more to connect passengers with ‘big data’. It is suggesting a ‘buy now and pay later’ scheme to simplify travel planning and purchase. Its plans will be led by its Chiltern Railways franchise, with input from Network Rail and Aston University.

The big data theme will focus on producing a coordinated data infrastructure to enable new insights into the rail operation and facilitate information. Network Rail is partnering up with Bombardier and Centro in this specific theme, as well as specialist expertise from HaCon, Data Alchemist and Enable ID.

The two linked themes are spread across Chiltern, CrossCountry, and London Overground Rail Operations Limited with projects that will take from one to three years to complete. The benefit-cost ratio is predicted to be 7.6:1, with benefits realised two to four years from the initiation.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) wants to tackle overcrowding in stations and on trains by making it easier for passengers to find the emptiest carriage, know where the empty seats are, and when the best time to travel is. Results will be available for use by the wider industry in an effort to disperse passenger loads across more services.

The operator will also look into improving its decision-making about capacity by using historical and forecasted crowd modelling. Railway operators will be able to make the best decisions about what services to run and how to respond to challenges in real-time.

GTR is working with National Rail Enquiries (NRE) and the University of Southampton. The pilot will use the London-Brighton line as a trial route and will include Gatwick Express, with benefits predicted for one to two years after initiation. The benefit-cost ratio is 4:1.

First Great Western (FGW) is to look into improving travel disruption and empowering passengers during delays by using future communications technology (mm-wave). It has the potential to deliver internet connections at speeds of over 400Mbps to a train.

Its team will work with Network Rail, the University of Bristol, and Level3 communications in this 12-month research project.

FGW will further develop its connectivity portfolio by bringing together location technology from the Geo-Intelligence Programme line of Airbus Defence and Space, as well as specialist capability from sources like IPL, Microsoft and Wordline. The partners will generate data for hackathon to help operators deal with disruption and create an app for passengers to manage their journey. This will be led by FGW and supported by its industry partners.

These projects will last a maximum of 15 months and the benefit-cost ratio is predicted to be 3:1.

TOC’15 is facilitated by the Network Rail and RSSB FutureRailway Programme. Companies are submitting proposals based on the 4C industry targets outlined in the Rail Technical Strategy: improving customer experience and capacity whilst reducing cost and carbon.

Transport minister Claire Perry MP said: “We are investing record amounts in providing better journeys across the UK as part of our long-term economic plan. Innovation is the key to delivering this commitment, and I am delighted to see industry rise to the challenge with three strong bids that put passengers at the heart of their business.

“I look forward to seeing their progress and I hope other rail companies are inspired by these examples.”


Rail Archive   14/07/2015 at 12:46

If the FGWbid improves the PIDD then that ia going to ne the winner as it iss the most needed by fustomers and would undoubtably be supported by Transport Focus.

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