Innovative ideas to transform railways, £7.8 million drive

 Saturday, June 15, 2019

Due to new funding for innovative ideas the UK’s rail network is set to become more efficient, greener and cleaner.


The Department for Transport unveiled that there are 24 winning projects in the third round of the First of a Kind ( FOAK) competition which will encompass drones capable of inspecting railway infrastructure, hydrogen train trials and a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution.


The competition seeks innovative ideas that can be applied to transform rail travel, it is being run by the Innovate UK and funded by the DfT to support research, development and innovation in the rail industry.


For this round the themes were strengthening resilience of railway infrastructure and operations, enhancing rail freight services, and reducing environmental and noise impacts were the themes for this round. The winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000 each.


Rail Minister Andrew Jones stated that the First of a Kind competition has consistently produced truly innovative projects developed for the benefit of passengers. This will help to drive forward a greener, cleaner and more efficient rail network.


He was excited to see how their funding will bring the ambitious ideas to fruition and this was the biggest round yet.

To modernize the rail network over the next 5 years the government will be investing £48 billion. This will ensure that people will have safe, frequent and punctual journeys they deserve.


The 4Silence’s plan will develop a noise-reducing wall that will diffract sound waves from passing trains upwards making it as effective as barrier 3 times its height.Amey VTOL’s development of a drone system can carry out track inspection from the skies which will further help people to avoid setting foot on railway infrastructure.


Funds have been received by the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research for its plan to undertake the first mainline testing of a hydrogen-fuelled train in the UK.


Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK mentioned that UK’s rail network delivers significant economic benefits to the nation, providing an environmentally-friendly transport system for the movement of both passengers and freight.There is more that they can do to boost the reliability of the network, to make it more attractive to freight users, and to make it even greener.



The reliability will be increased through the pioneering projects for which the funding have been announced to keep the services running benefitting the freight operators and the environment.

In 2017 the first round of First of a Kind was launched in 2017 and it saw 10 projects win a share of £3.5 million to develop ideas to improve passenger experience and demonstrate tomorrow’s trains.



There were schemes aimed at cutting the carbon footprint on the UK’s railways in the second round that would enhance stations for passengers.

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