This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Department for Transport (DfT). The aim of the competition is to deliver high maturity demonstrations of innovations to the UK railways.

This competition is part of a larger ‘first of a kind’ demonstrator initiative, on behalf of DfT. The initiative aims to accelerate innovation in the UK rail sector and enable technologies to be readily and efficiently integrated into the railway system. This competition is the sixth in the first of a kind portfolio.

This first of a kind competition has three themes:

  • Theme 1 – Low emissions and a greener railway
  • Theme 2 – Rail Freight
  • Theme 3 – Cost efficiency and performance priorities for a reliable railway (this theme). This will support industry cost efficiency and network performance priorities to support a reliable railway for customers.

Your project can start by 1 October 2022, must end by 31 March 2023, and can last up to 6 months.

Contracts will be between £150,000 and £250,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 12 months. We expect to fund between 10 and 15 projects.

Scope

For theme 3, you must focus on one of the following areas:

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

1. Plan resilience and recoverability (timetabling and associated resources)

2. Ancillary Plan to deliver right time, right traction from depot (management of rolling stock)

3. Deterioration in network response to external events including trespass and suicide: this category focuses on the response to incidents. Prevention of incidents is also important but has been covered by other programs.

4. Operating staff availability

5. Weather, seasons and climate change: Innovations proposed in this category must be focused on keeping the railway open, not on anticipating weather or seasonal considerations that might suggest closing the railway. Also note that adhesion related proposals are excluded as these have been covered by multiple other programs.

6. More efficient use of access for infrastructure maintenance: maximising the amount of time spent on core activities whilst trains are not running

7. Removal of organisational or systemic blockers to deployment of performance initiatives

Click here to see the full scope of each category.

Eligibility

Any organisation of any size can lead a project, working alone or with others. Applicants are welcome from all sectors.

Your project must involve:

  • an owner of railway assets (for example stations, rolling stock or infrastructure)
  • an experienced railway organisation
  • a rail organisation that has the potential to become a customer

These criteria can be met by a single organisation or up to three separate organisations.

You must also:

  • include a potential integration partner
  • have a letter of support signed by a senior individual, from a potential railway customer organisation

Proposals into this competition must already be high maturity at Rail Industry Readiness level 5 or above. You must evidence this as part of your application.

We welcome projects that include either an:

  • innovative start-up supply company that is already delivering in another sector
  • organisation with railway expertise, such as train operating companies, a freight operator, rolling stock manufacturers or operators and infrastructure owners

An online briefing event will be held on Thursday 5th May from 10am-3pm: click here to register to attend.