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Rail Alliance opens Buyer Community register to broker submissions for RSSB’s £4 million TOC-16 competition

The Rail Safety and Standards Board’s Train Operator Competition for 2016, TOC-16, is currently open to the rail supply chain with train operators in order to support innovations addressing challenges faced by operators, such as door-to-door customer journeys; punctuality and reliability at stations; disruption management; as well as the industry-wide challenges of increasing capacity, safety and security.

In addition to previous brokerage by Rail Industry Association, Rail Alliance, the rail sector’s largest dedicated business to business networking organisation, has initiated a submission process for suppliers seeking involvement in supported projects.


£4m put up for grabs

TOC-16 challenges train operators and suppliers to work together to develop new and innovative ways to improve performance, reliability and safety on the railway while also enhancing the customer experience of travelling by train.

The rules of TOC-16 require proposals to be submitted by consortia containing at least one train operator and at least one supplier.

The competition opened at a launch and briefing event on 19 May 2016, and will close for entries on 16 September 2016.

RSSB is offering funding of up to £4 million, with between £500,000 to £1 million per project to help deliver its technical strategy and has appointed two technology brokers: Rail Industry Association through its Unlocking Innovation Workshop on 15 June, and Rail Alliance.

While the RIA conducted face-to-face networking, the Rail Alliance said its tailored approach, involving 12 operators — the majority of which not previously involved, will be selected from online submissions to its Buyer Community register of supplier capability, technology or product.

TOC16 welcomes interest from companies from any sector offering a process, technology, product or service with significant potential to improve train operations or passenger experience.

To register for TOC-16 Rail Alliance requests 140 word capability statements to be submitted via its Buyer Community registration form.

Rail Alliance has presented a video to explain its approach.

Although TOC-16 closes for entries on 16 September 2016, Rail Alliance said that early registrations is advised to allow more time for submissions to be noticed.


Nine innovation projects are set for funding from RSSB’s TOC-15 competition

On 23 June the RSSB Innovation Programme announced nine projects being taken forward in its Train Operator Competition 2015 (TOC-15).

Three train operating companies, Arriva UK Trains, Govia Thameslink Railway and First Great Western won a share of the £6m innovation fund, facilitated by RSSB, and will now take forward their projects to the next stage of development. 

The TOC-15 competition sought to provide solutions to the challenges outlined in the Rail Technical Strategy - improving the customer experience, expanding capacity on the line, reducing carbon and minimising costs.  

The projects include new ways of personalising travel information as well as exploring how to help reduce the levels of chronic overcrowding on the busiest commuter routes.

The projects are:


  • MyJrny app: to prioritise individual passenger data, to put them in control of their personalised travel information. The app will be trialled in collaboration with Arriva Group, Chiltern Railways, Enable ID and Centro, to make it easier for passengers to plan journeys using real-time travel information, travel preferences and their current situations. 
  • Orinoco: A control and information system app, enabling staff and passengers to understand which carriages have space available to help reduce crowding on train platforms. The system, developed in partnership with Bombardier and HACON, will supply real-time information to control teams who can advise customers on where best to board, ensuring train capacity is maximised.
  • Big Operational Data: this project will integrate train data, location information and additional external data sources into a single data warehouse to help reverse the rail industry's reliance on outdated manual reporting and data analysis processes.
  • Continuously Connected Customer: research to explore the levels of Wi-Fi access rail passengers expect on their daily commute. Improved connectivity to encourage staggered journeys with emptier trains at peak times, will help reduce the levels of chronic overcrowding on the busiest commuter routes.
  • Retrospective Ticket Pricing: pilot study to test the application of existing payment technologies, including the use of beacon technology, to enable smart phones to operate gates without the passenger initiating the transaction.
  • Transformation Disruption Management: project to reduce operating costs for train companies through better practice. This will involve using a simulation tool to help the control room and frontline staff deal with passenger disruptions. The tool will be developed by Aston University in partnership with Chiltern Railways.

First Group

  • Mantra: Project to test the feasibility of new, high speed mobile technology in improving train to communication to the outside world in real-time. It will demonstrate the viability of using mmWave (millimetre Wave) access links to facilitate communications between the trackside and the train.
  • Open GPS: The Open GPS project will develop a gateway application for the rail industry, helping it to receive data from a number of sources to enable the ability to transmit information in real-time, including to websites and customer information systems.


  • Data Collection: This project will focus on collection of real-time data through improved technical methods from both stations and trains. The aim will be to display information through digital tools to help assist passengers and train staff.
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