Rail minister Paul Maynard has launched a further £7.9m round of funding to develop ‘cutting-edge’ ways to minimise disruption to the rail network and develop 'intelligent trains'.
The cash is on offer under the Accelerating Innovation in Rail (AIR) scheme, run by the Department for Transport (DfT) in partnership with Innovate UK.
The DfT said the aim of the competition is to create innovations that address the main goals identified in the industry’s ‘Rail Technical Strategy Capability Delivery Plan’ 2017:
- ‘minimal disruption to train services’
- ‘intelligent trains’
Rail minister Paul Maynard
Mr Maynard said: ‘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 groundbreaking ideas for the benefit of rail passengers across the country.’
The competition is open to companies of all sizes across the UK, but all entries must be collaborative, involving at least two different organisations and at least one small or medium-sized enterprise.
Projects are expected to range in size from total costs of £150,000 to £1.5m. Entries will be accepted from 18 September to 15 November.
Successful projects will have the potential to be rolled out across the network.
The DfT said entries in the last funding round in March included designing automated vehicles to carry out track inspections, improving trackside drainage to cut delays and line closures, and software to predict when potential train breakdowns might occur.
It said funding has been allocated through ‘a rigorous assessment process’ involving experts from the industry, and has attracted up to £4m in additional private sector finance.