train innovations

Funding worth £3 million to help integrate train innovations to improve journeys has been offered to 10 projects

New technologies will be brought to life through real demonstrators, many of which will be in passenger service, to showcase ‘tomorrow’s train today’ and to enable passengers to experience the innovations themselves and feedback their views.

These include:

  • A new design for train carriages which can increase the number of seats during peak hours
  • A carriage design that can quickly switch from carrying passengers to carrying goods
  • Beacons that can guide visually impaired passengers through the station and to their train seats
  • New technology enabling disabled passengers to seek assistance in real-time throughout their journey rather than having to book 24 hours in advance.
  • An augmented reality application that highlights landmarks along the journey
  • A new smart technology that can guide passengers to empty seats in other carriages while on-board crowded trains.

The £3.5 million First of a Kind (FOAK) competition run by the UK innovation agency, Innovate UK, is part of the Department of Transport’s (DfT) wider Accelerating Innovation in Rail (AliR) scheme.

Rail Minister Jo Johnson MP said: “We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme since Victorian times, introducing the changes that passengers want to see – more frequent services and quicker, more comfortable journeys.

“While we have introduced real-time platform information, taken big strides on safety and improved how we manage our railways to accommodate more services on existing tracks, the pace of change can sometimes be slower than we would like to see.

“Today’s funding is part of a wider programme of activities to speed up the delivery of new ideas and high-value innovations, which can have a big impact on passengers’ journeys.”

Ian Meikle, Innovate UK’s Director – Infrastructure Systems, said: “The UK railway is carrying more and more passengers, and they rightly demand improvements to their journeys. What we are announcing are tangible innovations, which each in their own way will make train travel better.”


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