London-based rail technology start-up JNCTION has secured government funding to develop a decision support tool for railway operators.

Funding was awarded by the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the Innovate UK’s First of a Kind (FOAK) competition.

The FOAK competition sought ideas and innovations that will help to make the UK railway network more efficient, sustainable and cleaner. Overall, 24 innovative schemes were awarded government grants under this initiative.

JNCTION’s Decision Support Tool leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to facilitate decision making during operational disruptions.

The tool automatically suggests alternative train plans based on historical data and previously devised contingency plans.

It is designed to minimise the impact and costs of service disruptions.

Furthermore, the system provides improved customer information through multiple channels to help passengers plan accordingly during disruptions.

The Decision Support Tool builds on the company’s existing information system, DART, which offers real-time information on the network.

JNCTION CEO MIke Lloyd said: “The announcement of the Innovate UK funding is great news for us as a small innovative British rail tech company, and an endorsement of the pioneering work we have done over the last three years.

“Our new system will be applicable to all train operators in the UK, and should result in more informed train planning decisions during disruption, and hence a better service for passengers.”

All 24 schemes selected under the FOAK competition will receive between £250,000 and £350,000 in grants.

Some of the other projects that received funding include Amey VTOL’s drone system, which can undertake aerial track inspections, and 4Silence’s plan to develop a noise-reducing wall for sound pollution caused by passing trains.