Organisations are being invited to apply for a share of £3 million funding that would improve rail efficiency and safety.
The funding is for projects that develop automated examination of rail tunnels or use analytics in order to minimise disruption from security incidents, improving station security in the process.
Investment from the two competitions is provided courtesy of Network Rail under the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), and is managed by Innovate UK, who are responsible for a series of funding options in the UK transport industry.
The funding opportunity has come about because of the dangers associated with tunnel examinations; Network Rail is responsible for looking after in excess of 600 tunnels and the length of these is around 335km combined.
Humans carry out examinations throughout these tunnels, a process that is seen as dangerous, time-consuming and expensive.
As a result, Network Rail wants to automate this process to ensure rail efficiency and safety.
If there are incidents in stations, they cause delays described as significant and Network Rail would like to investigate how data analytics can be used alongside existing security systems to reduce delays and improve safety.
In total, there are two competitions: tunnel examination and system development to identify security risks.
For the latter, the competition is looking for organisations to develop systems to identify loitering, undesirable behaviour, crowding and high-risk abandoned objects including bags and suitcases.
There are two phases to this, the first of which should develop and demonstrate an analytics system using pre-recorded data, with projects given the ability to trial ideas in a live station in the second phase.
Contracts of up to £121,000 will be awarded in Phase 1, and £250,000 in Phase 2.
For tunnel examination, the competition is seeking projects to develop an automated solution for examining tunnels, to be examined live on the railway.
Funding between £350,000 and £500,000 will be awarded for this; all of which will improve rail efficiency and safety.