The UK's rail industry is receiving a government-led investment of £5 million to accelerate business innovation and growth.
The funding comes from the Technology Strategy Board, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with 50 per cent of the funding coming through RSSB, the rail industry body for research and development.
“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,” said Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board.
“We are delighted to be working with the rail industry through RSSB to support such vital business innovation.”
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.
The projects will be led by Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd, Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd, Balfour Beatty Rail Technologies Limited (3 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 twenty-one small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
The funding programme will increase the level of innovation in established rail businesses while 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 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;
Including contributions from the companies involved, the total value of the R&D projects is in excess of £10 million.
“The railway industry is a product of invention and innovation, but today the industry is facing the twin challenges of growth while reducing costs,” said Len Porter, chief executive of RSSB.
“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.”