Innovation and technology investment 'to improve rail services'

28 September 2011

Posted by Samuel Couratin

Investment in technology and innovation on Britain's rail infrastructure could reduce costs by almost £40 million within two years.

This is the claim made by Network Rail, which has declared that its bright ideas innovation portal has resulted in solutions that look set to create a more cost-effective train system.

Over 200 submissions to the scheme have been received to date, which has been in operation for six months and a number of the proposals are now being put into practice in order to boost services.

According to the infrastructure group, the web resource was established to encourage organizations to submit their proposals for ways in which rail industry problems can best be addressed.

Solutions that have been selected to be used across the train network include a camera developed by Cemex and Kongsberg Maritime that can be used to detect defects along overhead rail wires and could substantially reduce costs across the Thameslink project, in addition to reducing delays for passengers and freight services.

"There has been a fantastic response from businesses at home and abroad which we predict will help Network Rail make savings of around £38m by 2014," said Network Rail director of engineering Steve Yianni.

He added that "there is the potential to deliver even greater savings between 2014 and 2019" through future development of the bright ideas innovation programme.

Other ideas that have been picked up by the project include acoustic curtains to reduce the impact of noise from maintenance on nearby properties and safety fences that can be clipped onto rails in order to provide a safe environment in which to carry out such work.

Network Rail recently stated that it hopes the electrification plans for hundreds of miles of the Great Western main line between London and Cardiff will generate more interest in working on the train infrastructure in the future, particularly among electrical engineering graduates.

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