We are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded Department of Transport (DfT) funding to develop an AI tool to assist Train Operating Companies (TOCs) make better train planning decisions during disruption, as part of the Innovate UK’s First of a Kind 3 competition.
Run by Innovate UK and funded by the DfT to support research, development and innovation in the UK rail industry, the First of a Kind competition looks for ideas that can be adapted to transform rail travel for the better.
Rail Minister, Andrew Jones, said: “The FOAK competition has consistently produced truly innovative projects developed for the benefit of passengers, helping to drive forward a greener, cleaner and more efficient rail network. This round has been the biggest yet and I am excited to see how our funding will bring these ambitious ideas to fruition. This government is also investing £48 billion to modernise our rail network over the next five years, ensuring people have the safe, frequent and punctual journeys they deserve.”
Our new system will use AI and Machine Learning techniques to assist control teams to automatically plan optimal train operations during disruption by suggesting train plans based on historical data and previously devised contingency plans.
Other successful projects include 4Silence’s plan to develop a noise-reducing wall that works by diffracting sound waves from passing trains upwards, and Amey VTOL’s development of a drone system that could carry out track inspections from the skies. This would avoid the need for people to set foot on railway infrastructure.
The University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research is also one of the schemes receiving funds, for its plans to undertake the first mainline testing of a hydrogen-fuelled train in the UK.
Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK, said: “The UK’s rail network delivers significant economic benefits to the nation, providing an environmentally-friendly transport system for the movement of both passengers and freight. Yet there is more we can do to boost the reliability of the network, to make it more attractive to freight users, and to make it even greener.
“The pioneering projects for which we have announced funding today can increase reliability, to keep services running, with real benefits to freight operators and the environment. The programme will also help innovative companies succeed, both here and in export markets.”
The announcement of the Innovate UK funding is great news for us as a small innovative British rail tech company, and an endorsement of the pioneering work we have done over the last three years. Our new system will be applicable to all train operators in the UK, and should result in more informed train planning decisions during disruption, and hence a better service for passengers.
We would like to say a massive thank you to the DfT and Innovate UK for selecting us as one of the winners, and a big congratulations to the other winners.
We will be keeping you up-to-date with regular updates on the project through the JNCTION website and our social media channels, so watch this space for developments!