The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has approved funding of more than £5m for 24 innovators for projects related to the railway sector.

Under the First of a Kind (FOAK) 2022 competition, which was conducted in partnership with Innovate UK, the innovators and inventors secured funds for rail projects that include self-charging trains and pioneering batteries.

Some of the companies that received the funding include Varamis, Echion Technologies and Thales Ground Transportation Systems.

Echion is involved in the development of batteries that can charge from overhead wires. This charging can be used to ‘leapfrog’ across an unelectrified section of track and create self-charging trains.

Thales has developed new sensors that can identify people approaching tracks, pin down their location and provide an early warning to the staff.

This technology is expected to help cut down disruption and could serve as a method of suicide intervention or stopping protestors from getting on the tracks.

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Other innovative rail projects that received support include automatic systems for the identification and stopping of track flooding, as well as electric drivetrains for the replacement of polluting diesel engines.

Funding was also granted for new technology to enhance rail safety by relaying track information.

Rail freight winners include G-Volution for decarbonising auxiliary load in freight, 3squared for levelling up freight, Varamis for transforming high-speed rail logistics, and Hack Partners for automating freight access rights management.

The winners also include TDI (Europe) for ‘Freight Skate’, a self-powered freight bogie and platform and Peak to Peak Measurement Solutions for rapidly deployable rail stress sensors for next-generation freight monitoring.

Other companies that secured the funding include Wabtec UK, Porterbrook Leasing Company, Artonezero, One Big Circle, Govia Thameslink Railway, JR Dynamics, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Monirail, and Park Signalling.

UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The UK has a long history of leading the way in railway innovation and the First of a Kind competition is getting the great brains of today to create the trains of tomorrow.

“Through millions of pounds worth of government funding, we are breathing life into ideas that will revolutionise our railways and make them greener than ever before.”