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£9M funding announced to improve railway for customers

Rail Minister announces up to £9M for innovation funding competition to improve customer experience.

In a message to the Railway Industry Association’s Innovation Conference, Rail Minister Paul Maynard announced up to £9M, which will support UK businesses as part of a new innovation competition to develop solutions for national and international railways.

The Department for Transport (DFT) are making the funding available through Innovate UK.

The competition is part of helping to create better railways through the industry’s Rail Technical Strategy and its Rail Capability Delivery Plan for 2017, which outlines the joint industry vision.

It focuses on two priority areas. The first is creating high-value, low-cost railway innovations, which increase the value of rail services to passengers while driving down operation expense, and the second is improving customer experience through station design and performance.

Customers will benefit from a more sustainable rail industry that offers better services, better journeys and better value.

Mr Maynard said: “We are delivering the biggest modernisation programme in rail since the Victorian era. But industries like automotive and aerospace spend many times what rail spends on research and development. This has to change. We have got to accelerate innovation in rail. It’s what passengers deserve and expect.

“This is why we are working with Innovate UK to launch a rail innovation competition offering investment of up to £9m, which will help to deliver the industry’s Rail Technical Strategy.

“We want participation both from within the rail sector and from organisations with little experience of working in rail. Winning back customer confidence is a big challenge for the industry and successful innovation will play a big role in delivering that.”

Funding is available for application by any size UK business. Each project should include at least one small or medium sized enterprise.

Projects are expected to last up to 12 months and range in size from £150,000 to £1M, and could attract up to 70% of their project costs.

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