UK’s Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has teamed up with Network Rail fund to co-fund the Data Sandbox + research competition.

The competition is aimed at supporting companies that are developing data-driven solutions to advance the operational performance of rail networks in the UK.

The competition is part of the PERFORM programme, an RSSB-led cross-industry initiative.

The Data Sandbox+ initiative has a budget of £1.3m, of which RSSB contributes £650,000 and Network Rail shares the remaining financial burden.

The competition is open for academics, suppliers and innovators and supports research to use data to improve service punctuality and reliability.

RSSB senior partnerships and grants manager Giulia Lorenzini said: “The competition will build on successful collaborations between innovators, academia, train operators and other industry bodies in order to ultimately improve operational performance and a better customer experience.”

The competition will also look into using artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advanced data analytics technologies to improve trains’ punctuality.

Launched in April, the competition consists of five feasibility projects. Four projects received funding in the first round of the competition, which are expected to commence in November.

The second round of the competition is scheduled to conclude on 6 December.

Earlier this week, Network Rail teamed up with Connected Places Catapult (CPC) to develop technologies to improve the rail network.

The agreement took place under ‘Innovation Factory’, which is part of Network Rail’s five-year £357m research and development (R&D) portfolio.