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The rail industry’s Enabling Innovation Team (eit) launched with £16 m funding – (www.futurerailway.org)

The rail industry has set up a new Enabling Innovation Team to accelerate the uptake of innovation in the industry.  The team led by David Clarke will be building a portfolio of investments in innovation demonstrator projects and innovation enabling actions that will drive new concepts through to implementation over the short, medium and long term.


Their mission includes:

  • Foster a new culture of innovation in the rail industry
  • Create a clear and direct pathway for the introduction of innovation
  • Transfer innovation from other sectors in to the rail industry

The team aims to help innovators to navigate the complex rail industry landscape and identify the most appropriate route to market. This will particularly of interest to those from outside of the industry.


The initial challenges that the team will be focusing on are:


Capability and Route Mapping - inform their investment strategy going forward.


The 4C’s train – the development of the strategic benefits case and approach to competition for a radially different train with potential worldwide markets. The outcome could be whole vehicle and/or radical developments in major sub systems


Customer Experience – improving the customer experience, both for passenger and freight operations.


Business and Operational Innovations – identifying the most significant business and operational challenges where innovative solutions can have the greatest impact and benefit.


How to get involved


The Enabling Innovation Team will be running a series of themed competitions over the coming months to address the above challenges and more.  Visit their website (www.futurerailway.org) to find out more about these competitions future events and more background.


They want to hear from anyone with innovative operational/ business solutions or technology which could address challenges faced by the rail industry.  They will treat all communications in strictest confidence and will be happy to enter into confidentiality agreements if required to protect parties.




2 people have had something to say so far

We should not overlook the benefits that may come from innovation in the permanent way. A large part of the cost of a railway is actually incurred in maintaining the track and not doing this effectively adversely impacts the safety and productivity of the whole system. Perhaps we need to build future railways with alternative technology to reduce maintenance, enhance safety, allow higher speeds and deliver the highest levels of productivity.
Posted on 10/12/12 12:47.
You raise a very good point and one might be forgiven that the focus is on the rolling stock, c.f. the 4C's train (mentioned above) and work on the independently powered EMU which features in the 'Provisional Pipeline' which can be found at http://www.futurerailway.org/eit/Documents/20121128_EIT_Pitch_Slide_Pack.pdf. The focus of the Enabling Innovation Team is very much on stimulating cross-industry innovation where there has been a market failure, for instance were the benefits arising from an innovation accrue to a different set of stakeholders than those required to make the investment. Thus the team would tend not to get involved in facilitating innovations that were wholly within the realm of one stakeholder and in Network Rail’s case you can see their specific infrastructure challenges for suppliers to respond to at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/12000.aspx. That does not mean that the team will not be investing in infrastructure innovation though, particularly where it forms part of a wider system (work is planned on electrification for instance). The 'Capability and Route Mapping' mentioned above is also likely to result in attention being given to infrastructure innovation. That work is seeking to understand what the UK is good at and where the domestic and international opportunities are so as to drive investment. Many of those opportunities will be found in the Rail Technical Strategy 2012 (available at http://www.futurerailway.org/RTS/Pages/Intro.aspx) which naturally has infrastructure as one of six technical strategies. I hope this helps.
Posted on 07/02/13 10:46 in reply to Robin Wolfendale.

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