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New round of rail tech competition launched

A further £7.9M has been committed to a rail innovation scheme designed to improve the rail network for passengers.

The competition, Accelerating Innovation in Rail (AIR) scheme, is run by the Department for Transport (DfT) in partnership with Innovate UK and seeks to develop cutting edge technology which will improve the rail network. Funded innovations from previous rounds range from lightweight energy-saving carriages, to software that tells passengers how busy arriving trains are, and personalised ticket machines that help customers with their ongoing journeys.

With further funding committed to the project, the competition is asking for collaborative entries, involving at least two different organisations from across the UK and at least one SME. Entries will be accepted from 18 September to 15 November 2017.

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We want to see ideas that improve reliability on the network for passengers. We have a wealth of pioneering, innovative companies out there ready to put their ideas into practice.

“This is about nurturing innovation on the railways and about developing trains that are less reliant on complex and expensive infrastructure.

“We want to tap into these inventive and ground-breaking ideas for the benefit of rail passengers across the country, and to support the biggest modernisation programme in rail since the Victorian era.”

The last round of funding promoted a diverse range of entries such as automated vehicles to carry out track inspections, improved trackside drainage to cut delays and line closures, and software to predict when potential train breakdowns might occur.

Funding is allocated through a rigorous assessment process involving experts from the industry. Some £4M in private sector financing has been added to the funding as well. Following successful testing and demonstration, successful projects will have the potential to be rolled out across the network.


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