British rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook has launched an innovation hub to facilitate and encourage the development of rail technologies and passenger-faced improvements.

The hub will be primarily designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are operational across the UK rail industry’s supply chain to test and demonstrate new ideas.

Porterbrook created the innovation hub by re-configuring a four-car Class 319 train, which will serve a working environment. The SMEs can test and exhibit various technologies on the train.

Porterbrook said that its hub will support environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, better passenger facilities, new uses of internet connectivity and system monitoring.

“We are very aware of the challenges our suppliers face in demonstrating and testing new products.”

Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant said: “We’re proud to launch the Innovation Hub, a project we hope will pave the way for brilliant new ideas and technologies to be implemented on the railways.

“Innovation is the life-blood of the rail industry, but while there is no shortage of new ideas, we are very aware of the challenges our suppliers face in demonstrating and testing new products.

“As an industry steeped in heritage, it’s essential that we keep our fingers on the pulse of new technology and customer needs, and this is something that we at Porterbrook put at the core of what we do.”

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Porterbrook noted that more than 25 companies are selected to showcase around 30 products and innovations at its first public exhibition at Rail Live 2019 in Long Marston.

Last month, Porterbrook began trialling new technology to reduce emissions from diesel-powered trains in the UK.

The move aims to reduce nitrous oxide emissions by more than 80%, and carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons emissions by 90% compared to existing levels.