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Author Topic: Searching for the next Brunel  (Read 2028 times)
grahame
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« on: January 15, 2020, 05:45:18 am »

From New Civil Engineer

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched the First of a Kind 2020 competition, which includes a £9.4M fund for innovative ideas to develop the UK’s railway.

Innovation UK is working in tandem with the DfT on the project, which will reward rail technology companies hoping to “create a greener, more cost-effective and customer-friendly railway with greater capacity”. The winning projects will receive a share of the £9.4M fund.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “For two centuries the UK has been at the cutting edge of rail technology.

“To build the railway of tomorrow we have to support the inventors and innovators of today. This competition is designed to find the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and help them create the technology that defines our railway in the future.”

Future of Transport minister George Foreman visited Riding Sunbeams to launch the competition this week, which won funding to pilot its innovative solar panel rail project in 2019. Riding Sunbeams was one of 24 companies to receive funding of up to £350,000 from a previous version of the DfT competition.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2020, 06:59:56 am »

Can't really imagine Brunel surviving today's administrative and managerial environment.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 12:13:06 pm »

From New Civil Engineer

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched the First of a Kind 2020 competition, which includes a £9.4M fund for innovative ideas to develop the UK’s railway.
...
This competition is designed to find the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and help them create the technology that defines our railway in the future.”

Well, whoever they find, as long as they don't end up with a 2030s Atmospheric Railway in Devon, a bridge across a gorge that goes from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular, and a gauge that is wider than everybody else is using, we might be all right...
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stuving
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 12:46:09 pm »

This "first of a kind " competition has been going for four years now, but has always been confusing - it's badged as both InnovateUK and SBRI, and has varying names for different rounds - as well as overlapping calls for different subjects. This one lists as topics:

  • environmental sustainability
  • customer experience
  • optimised railway operations
  • optimised and cost-effective maintenance

There are two rail-related calls still open from December (at least):

  • Innovation in automated survey processing for railway structure gauging, phase 1
    Businesses can apply for a share of £720,000, plus VAT, to develop a demonstrator for automated railway structure gauging processing.
  • Innovation in railway platform end and edge technology
    Opportunity for businesses to apply for a share of £1.08 million, plus VAT, to develop solutions to detect and deter trespass at railway platform ends and edges.
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2020, 12:36:01 pm »

The results of this FOAK competition were announced by Grant Shapps yesterday. Loads of winners, some sounding more Heath-Robinsonish that others. Here's a selection, at E&T:
Quote
Researchers developing railway station platforms that automatically melt ice have been given a share of £9.4m in Government funding.

The concrete slabs come with a built-in heating system that activates in freezing conditions to prevent dangerous icy conditions for passengers.

Rail Safety and Standards Board figures show that 19 people were killed and more than 7,000 were injured in accidents around platform edges on Britain’s railways in a recent five-year period.

Other projects benefitting from the funding include the Seatfrog Train Swap app, which will allow passengers to quickly and remotely update their seat reservation to another service.

A world-first zero-emission machine for removing and replacing rails has also been developed, along with hydrogen-based steam turbines to provide zero-emission, low-noise rail freight.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “I am delighted to announce the winners of this year’s ‘First of a Kind’ competition which will support better, more environmentally friendly journeys.

“Crucially, these pioneering projects will also ensure that passengers have a more efficient, reliable and responsive railway, making their journeys simpler and easier.

“From clever technology on platforms to prevent icy surfaces, new seat-switching apps and improved 5G Wi-Fi connections, harnessing innovation will be crucial to modernising the network and making our railways greener and cleaner, as we build out of Covid-19 and look to the future.”

In a separate project pioneered by iProov, rail passengers using Eurostar services will soon be able to take advantage of a facial biometric corridor to enable contactless journeys.

The walk-through system will allow customers to complete ticket checks and border exit processes at St Pancras International station without needing to come into contact with people or hardware.

The concept, already trialled in airports to increase speed and safety and manage immigration, is now being brought to train travel as part of a competition run by Innovate UK and funded by the Department for Transport.

Passengers planning to travel on Eurostar services would be offered an accelerated pre-boarding option. Prior to travelling, they would use the Eurostar app to scan their identity documentation. The iProov facial biometric check then uses controlled illumination to authenticate the identity of the user against the ID document.
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