The Government is leading on an investment of £5 million to accelerate business innovation and growth in the UK’s rail industry, supporting the development of technologies to address challenges and to meet customer requirements in both UK and international rail markets.
The funding comes from the Technology Strategy Board, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), with 50% of the funding coming through RSSB, the rail industry body for research and development.
The £5 million will be invested through grant awards to nineteen major new business-led research and development projects. The awards, which follow the outcome of the ‘Accelerating Innovation in Rail’ competition for R&D funding, mark the start of a long-term strategic partnership between RSSB
and the Technology Strategy Board.
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “These exciting business-led collaborative projects will develop innovative technologies to address the key challenges facing the UK rail industry today – cost, carbon, capacity and customer satisfaction – and we are delighted to be working with the rail industry through RSSB to support such vital business innovation.”
Len Porter, Chief Executive of RSSB, added: “The railway industry is a product of invention and innovation, but today the industry is facing the twin challenges of growth while reducing costs. This partnership recognises the role that innovation from all sizes of business can play in meeting those challenges. We are delighted to be working with the Technology Strategy Board to take so many exciting projects forward.”
The projects will be led by Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd, Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd, Balfour Beatty Rail Technologies Limited (three projects), British Telecommunications plc, Broadband Access Strategies LLP, Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd, Heat Trace Ltd, Hitex (UK) Ltd, Innovative Technology and Science Ltd, Interfleet Technology Ltd, Laser Cladding Technology Ltd, London Underground, Magnomatics Ltd, Materials Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL) Ltd, Omnicom Engineering Ltd, Trapeze Group Ltd and TRL (Transport Research Laboratory).
The nineteen projects will involve a total of 46 companies, universities and other organisations, including 21 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
The funding programme will increase the level of innovation in established rail businesses whilst also introducing new businesses to the rail sector. The projects include work that will lead, for example, to the development of:
- Systems to improve the energy efficiency of both diesel and electric-powered trains;
- Better passenger services, such as multi-modal journey planning and enhanced voice and broadband provision on passenger trains;
- Improving safety and reducing delays and cost in winter with an energy-efficient heating system for points and an on-train adhesion monitoring system;
- Reducing the lifetime costs of rail infrastructure and rolling stock with technologies such as laser cladding, asset monitoring systems and the use of composite materials.
The grant funding forms part of the Technology Strategy Board’s programme of investment in business-led innovation in transport and is in partnership with the rail industry, represented by
the Technical Strategy Leadership Group, an RSSB-facilitated cross-industry expert body.