Train travels down tracks

RIA publishes its rail innovation strategy calling for greater innovation

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has published its rail innovation strategy calling for the industry to become more radical to overcome barrier to innovation.

The A Railway Innovation Strategy paper has been published ahead of the upcoming transition to Great British Railways (GBR).

The paper looks at innovation within the industry and the barriers to getting new products and services into the rail network.

It underlines that more collaboration is needed within the industry to help businesses bring news ideas to market more quickly.

It is also noted that a culture of innovation will be required to create a more cost-efficient, sustainable and accessible network for passengers under GBR.

RIA emphasises the benefits that investment in rail innovation can bring.

Estimates suggest Network Rail’s £245m of R&D funding between 2019 and 2024 will create a gross value add of £1.6bn over 20 years.

The strategy sets out six key ‘asks’ for the Government and the rail industry to consider, these include:

  • Increasing Government investment in rail innovation, research and development
  • Supporting skills development and the creation of a culture of innovation
  • Adopting a whole-system and long-term view to enable the right innovation
  • Strengthening support during the rollout of innovation
  • Providing a pathway and funding for radical innovation
  • Leading a cross-industry effort to identify and overcome barrier

The strategy also outlines some key examples of industry innovation including how infrastructure research at the University of Southampton is bringing improved reliability.

Another example of this is HydroFLEX the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train and the world’s first train retrofitted with hydrogen technology.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of RIA commented on the paper and the benefits it can bring to the rail industry.

Mr Caplan said: “The UK is home to some of the most innovative rail businesses and organisations anywhere in the world.

“[These provide] valuable products and expertise to reduce costs, cut carbon and improve the experience for passengers.

“An innovative sector is also good for UK plc, with expertise that can be exported globally.

“The RIA Railway Innovation Strategy sets out how the industry can harness this innovation, to make a real difference to everyone who uses.

“Central to this will be the willingness of decision-makers to embrace radical innovation.

“We cannot keep letting good innovations fall at the last hurdle, instead we need to ensure there is support as they are delivered.

“On funding… we would like to see this go further, with businesses encouraged to invest in new products and workforces.

“Co-funding is key, but this requires long-term commitment and clarity from clients.”

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