UK launches technology competition to improve rail services


The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has allocated £7.9m for the development of new ways to improve the rail network for passengers as part of the next round of the Accelerating Innovation in Rail (AIR) scheme.

The competition is run by DfT in partnership with Innovate UK, and includes multiple schemes such as lightweight energy-saving carriages, software providing information about the arriving trains and personalised ticket machines.

UK Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We want to see ideas that improve reliability on the network for passengers. We have a wealth of pioneering, innovative companies out there ready to put their ideas into practice.

“This is about nurturing innovation on the railways and about developing trains that are less reliant on complex and expensive infrastructure.”

"This is about nurturing innovation on the railways and about developing trains that are less reliant on complex and expensive infrastructure."

The competition is open to all companies in the UK, though entries must be collaborative in nature, including a minimum of two different organisations and at least one small and medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Entries will be accepted from 18 September through to 15 November.

DfT previously initiated a similar funding round in March that also involved multiple initiatives, including designing automated vehicles to carry out track inspections, improving trackside drainage to cut delays and line closures, and software to detect potential train breakdowns.

The projects are due to be implemented across the UK rail network following successful demonstration and testing.