A competition launched in November by Innovate UK and Network Rail to drive innovation through automated rail infrastructure design now has recipients of the competition grant.
The collaborative research project will give four companies a share of a £300,000 grant to develop and demonstrate tools to automatically plan rail infrastructure.
Entrants were initially asked to develop solutions for rail that would accelerate automated design to track layout, overhead line electrification, traction power systems and signalling systems.
Automated design is viewed as extremely important because it means engineers can automatically explore huge swathes of design space and simultaneously identify the most appropriate design options in a quick and cost effective manner.
With Control Period 6 (CP6) imminent, this drive towards efficiency is key because, even though a level of money is being spent like never before, there are still difficult decisions to be made as to which areas of the rail to direct investment towards.
By increasing efficiency, in real terms, the pot of funding will increase.
Network Rail and Innovate UK’s competition that will enable automated rail infrastructure planning, has seen four projects awarded a grant – Costain Ltd, Graffica Ltd, PEAN Technologies Ltd and Plume Rail Ltd have all won the collaborative research and development grant.
Atish Chauhan is a project manager at Network Rail, who explained the importance of automated design.
“I am really pleased that the challenge we set out in our competition generated a lot of interest and that companies have come back with some excellent ideas and solutions.
“Using automated design will help Network Rail with producing better designs faster and support our support long term service planning by allowing better assumptions about future infrastructure and associated changes to services.”
Innovate UK and Network Rail will now work with the competition winners so they can develop and demonstrate the automated design tools.