Innovate UK & DfT seek projects to support cleaner & more efficient railways
Innovate UK is to launch a competition on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) that will allow businesses to apply for a share of £3.5 million funding to encourage innovation in the UK rail sector, demonstrate new technologies to customers and industry and help to build better railways for everyone.
Statistics show that the UK rail industry transported more than 1.7 billion passengers as well as millions of tonnes of freight in 2017, and it is expected that these numbers are likely to double within a decade.
This, coupled with growing customer expectations, presents a real challenge to the rail and light-rail industries. It has been identified that new technologies could help to meet the rise in demand and offer more sustainable, quality services, journeys and better value to users.
The competition, being run through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), aims to seek out well-developed innovations that are ready to be tested in an environment with railway customers and industry.
The competition will search for projects that focus on reducing the carbon footprint of railways across stations, rolling stock and infrastructure, and projects that use innovative technology to build a station of the future that improves the passenger experience.
The competition will be look for projects that focus on:
- Building stations with a zero carbon footprint
- Improving air quality in stations and across the network
- Reducing noise and pollution
- Finding alternatives to fossil fuels, batteries or dual power systems, or supporting cheaper electrification
- Developing lightweight, energy-efficient rolling stock
- Transferring knowledge from other sectors
- Making better use of energy generation and storage
- Offering a seamless end-to-end journey
- Supporting accessibility for all passengers
- Developing ticketless gate lines and barrier-free access
- Developing virtual assistant technology
- Providing reliable, consistent information during disruption and delays.
Funding is for integration and direct testing with users and projects submitted during the competition should gather feedback, show how it would benefit passengers and demonstrate a significant change for the rail industry. Key aspects for projects to address will include:
- Reducing costs by 50 per cent or more
- Doubling capacity
- Halving carbon emissions
- Improving the experiences of customers.
The competition will open on 8 October 2018 and the deadline for registrations is midday on 21 November 2018. It is open to organisations of all sizes and sectors. The competition expects to fund up to 12 projects with total costs of between £250,000 and £350,000, including VAT, and projects will be 100 per cent funded. Projects must start by 1 March 2019 and can last up to nine months. Competition briefing events will be held on 9 October 2018 in York, 11 October in London and via an online webinar.