Grants totalling more than £5m have been awarded to 24 projects under the First of a Kind 2022 funding competition organised by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK.

UK: Grants totalling more than £5m have been awarded to 24 projects under the First of a Kind 2022 funding competition organised by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK.

‘We are breathing life into ideas that will revolutionise our railways and make them greener than ever before’, said Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper when the grants were announced on November 15. ‘I am determined to support British innovation and create a cutting-edge, green rail industry that delivers even more benefits for passengers and freight.’

Rail Freight

Decarbonising Auxiliary Load in Freight Today


£378 513

Working with Colas Rail to demonstrate the use of fuel cells and a carbon neutral bio-liquid petroleum gas fuel system to power the auxiliary electric power requirements which account for 10% to 15% of the total power demand on freight trains. This will remove the need for diesel powertrains to remain powered up or idling during dwell times, which can cause up to 20% of fuel consumption and emissions.

Levelling up Freight


£393 271

Working with OpenTrainTimes, Pragmatex, Network Rail, Eddie Stobart and Solent Stevedores, the PathPlanner freight planning platform will be used to reduce the time required to find new freight paths to and from the port of Southampton, increasing capacity and allowing the transfer of containers from lorries to trains.

Transforming high-speed rail logistics


£396 467

Working with Steer, Eversholt Rail, FedEx, Network Rail and DHL, an adapted EMU will be used to carry containerised parcels between city centre distribution hubs at stations.

Automating freight access rights management and spot bidding using novel and modern software to drive modal shift from road to rail

Hack Partners

£322 420

Supported by the Great British Railways Transition Team and Network Rail, this project will focus on giving freight teams a bespoke system that will automatically calculate conflicts in access rights against the timetable and real-world operational working, and enable freight operators to spot bid for access.

Freight Skate self-powered freight bogie and platform

TDI (Europe)

£400 000

Working with LB Foster, GB Railfreight  and Eversholt Rail, the team will design and manufacture a self-powered semi-autonomous bogie which will improve operating flexibility as it can move one or 20 containers, operated by one person who can then divide and track the containers to different locations, saving time, reducing noise pollution, and improving air quality within the terminal and in the wider community.

Rapidly deployable rail stress sensor for next generation freight monitoring

Peak To Peak Measurement Solutions

£264 749

With support from the University of Sheffield, UniPart Rail, KT Precision Engineering Ltd, PCB Train, Techni Measure Ltd and Murgitroyd, European Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys, National Research Council Canada and LB Foster Rail Technologies, the team aims to further develop and demonstrate a small under-rail sensor that reports key rail and freight vehicle operating parameters with system benefits such as reducing possession duration, reducing inspection/maintenance downtime and providing operators with easy access to the data streams.

Low emissions and a greener railway

ECML Net Zero Traction Decarbonisation Demonstration

Siemens Mobility

£59 983

Working with British Solar Renewables, the University of York, Network Rail, DB Schenker, and East Coast Main Line operators, the project will test a prototype converter to make renewable energy compatible with powering railways.

Ultra-high power Battery for low Emission Rail

Echion Technologies

£59 917

Supported by Transport Design International, Horiba Mira and DB Cargo, this team aims to demonstrate its XNO battery chemistry for certain classes of battery electric trains using overhead or third rail electrification to charge the battery and enable battery-only operation on unelectrified sections of a route.

Zero Emissions Repowering of Railway Construction Infrastructure


£59 852

Working with Voltsport, CLEC and HS2 to develop an electric motor and battery system with controller, using commercially available products, which can be retrofitted into existing construction plant to replace the diesel engine.

Axle mounted motor for retrofit to DMUs to enable zero emissions in stations

Wabtec UK

£59 451

Working with the University of Nottingham, Atkins SNC Lavalin and Angel Trains to develop a small and low mass yet high peak torque and power axle-mounted motor to enable kinetic energy to be recovered during braking and provide power while accelerating.

Zero Emission Powering of Auxiliary Loads in Stations

Wabtec UK

£59 921

Supported by Angel Trains, the project aims to power ancillary loads such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, door control and lighting with a low-cost, automated energy supply connected to the third rail.

ERiCS - Emissions Reductions in Closed Stations

Porterbrook Leasing

£59 549

Working with Pendyne, Eminox and East Midland Railway to use exhaust gas heating to improve the effectiveness of exhaust after-treatment in covered stations. The technology is a development of an electrically heated catalyst which has been used in road applications but is new to rail.

25 kV Battery Train Charging Station Demonstration

Siemens Mobility

£59 910

Working with the University of York, Network Rail, West Coast Main Line operators and Angel Trains to enable charging of battery-electric trains from existing standard local power supply cables, enabling the removal of diesel passenger train operation on routes without continuous electrification.

Cost efficiency and performance priorities for a reliable railway

EventGo - Intelligent Rail Service Demand Forecasting for Event-based Travel


£249 946

Working with Northern Trains, Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Club, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, In The Round and Avanti West Coast to accurate predict rail demand for large visitor events.

NextGen Data-Driven Timetable Performance Optimisation Tool Artonezero

£157 826

Working with Network Rail, Transport for Wales and LNER to develop a timetable analysis system that will compare observed train movements with planned timings to calculate an ‘achievability score’ indicating what proportion of trains could be expected to run on time to that timetable, and calculate the minimum headway between consecutive services such that the following service does not have to slow down.

Protection and Resilience for OLE using Computer Vision Techniques

One Big Circle

£247 115

Supported by Angel Trains and Network Rail, this project will apply computer vision techniques to existing video footage to identify where extreme heat has affected the tension of overhead lines; and also install an ultraviolet camera to detect corona discharge as an early warning of potential electrical equipment failure caused by weather conditions.

FOAS Enabled Intruder Detection System

Thales Ground Transportation Systems

£223 659

Working with GTS, Focus Sensors and Network Rail, the team will demonstrate the detection of persons approaching a site before they reach the perimeter boundary and alert railway staff to their precise location.

Rail Flood Defender

University Of Sheffield

£249 771

Supported by Network Rail, this will explore the use of artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic powered real-time flow control to reduce flooding and associated damage.

Optimal Prediction of Sand for Adhesion

Govia Thameslink Railway

£153 228

Working with Cranfield University and Network Rail, the team will develop an algorithm to plan the route allocation of trains and schedule their maintenance, integrating a tool that can predict sand refilling. This algorithm will be integrated into the scheduling software to plan train maintenance according to the need for replenishing sand.

Unauthorised Cable Removal and Fault Triage

Focus Sensors

£215 309

Working with Thales and Network Rail, the team will use existing trackside optic fibre cables to locate cable thefts instantly to within 1 m.

Trains with Brains

JR Dynamics

£248 047

Working with Transmission Dynamics Poland and supported by Angel Trains, Network Rail and West Midlands Trains, the team aims to integrate data from a range of Transmission Dynamics’ existing remote condition monitoring sensors into NR’s monitoring and planning systems/processes.

Optimising Railway Possessions

Frazer-Nash Consultancy

£232 226

Working with eviFile and Network Rail, the team will use optimisation and machine learning algorithms to identify potential optimal plans for possessions.

Portable Track Geometry Measurement System


£249 261

Working with the University of Birmingham, Eurostar, Network Rail and Analog Devices, the team aims to overcome delays to line reopening or removal of speed restrictions by providing track engineers with a portable dynamic track geometry measurement system that can be temporarily fixed to vehicles along with a lineside sensor array that can provide additional safety-critical track information.

State of the Railway Compiler Data Solution: open access real-time signalling data

Park Signalling

£217 128

Working with Instrumental, Network Rail and Northern Trains, the team will provide standardised signalling asset sensor data in near real-time within an open commercial model, removing some of the systemic blockers around access to data.