Network Rail and Innovate UK have selected four companies as finalists for their collaborative research and development competition grant.

Costain, Graffica, PEAN Technologies and Plume Rail were declared winners.

Launched in November, the competition invited applications for solutions that will help to implement automated designs to track layout, overhead line electrification, traction power supply systems and signalling systems.

“The collaboration between Innovate UK and Network Rail has seen the delivery of a very successful competition with a high level of interest.”

Network Rail project manager Atish Chauhan said: “I am really pleased that the challenge we set out in our competition generated a lot of interest and that companies have come back with some excellent ideas and solutions.

“Using automated design will help Network Rail with producing better designs faster and support our long-term service planning by allowing better assumptions about future infrastructure and associated changes to services.”

The four winners will receive a combined grant of £300,000. The money will be used to fund projects involved in the development of tools that plan automatic rail infrastructure.

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Innovate UK lead for rail Kelvin Davies said: “The collaboration between Innovate UK and Network Rail has seen the delivery of a very successful competition with a high level of interest, bringing together a range of organisations with different skills and specialisms.

“We look forward to working with Network Rail to deliver the exciting portfolio of projects over the coming 12 months and to help demonstrate the capability of automated design for planning different aspects of future railway systems.”