Porterbrook Hydroflex fuel cell multiple-unit

BCRRE and Porterbrook have been awarded funding to support the design and testing of a hydrogen fuel cell power pack as part of the HydroFlex project.

UK: The Department for Transport and Innovate UK have announced the 25 projects which are to share £9·4m of funding under the 2020 round of the First of a Kind rail industry innovation programme.

‘These high quality projects illustrate the appetite of UK organisations to develop new and exciting innovations for rail transport that improve customers’ user experience, that optimise railway efficiency, and are environmentally sustainable’, said Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK.

 ProjectLead organisationDescription

Customer experience






Train Swap

Seatfrog Ops

Enabling passengers to quickly and remotely update their seat reservation to a different service.

Dynamic capacity management

Esoterix Systems Ltd

Ticketing that adjusts to travel patterns and rewards particular choices, using a monthly subscription that will help customers to save money on a large upfront fee.

Next generation composite poles for a 5G enabled railway

Hive Composites 


Installation of lightweight composite poles along railways to improve wi-fi speed, consistency and connectivity.

Illumin heated concrete platform coper slabs

Sheffield Hallam University

Illuminated and heated low-energy concrete slabs for station platforms, which automatically switch on in freezing conditions to help prevent passengers from slipping on ice.



iProov, WorldReach Software and eurostar are to establish a walk-through ’facial biometric corridor’ at London St Pancras International to allow passengers to complete ticket checks and border exit processes without needing to come into contact with people or hardware.

Track-to-train communications to Transport for Wales

Ingram Networks 

Lab-based study into cost-effective 10 Gbps+ trackside to train communications infrastructure, to be tested on an 8 km heritage railway in Leicestershire, .

Environmental sustainability







Prototype zero emissions Trac Rail Transposer (TRT-e)

Unipart Rail 


A zero-emissions machine which removes and replaces rails.

LoCe: less oil, cleaner exhaust

Porterbrook Leasing

£400 000 to support Porterbook, Eminox, Bosch Rexroth and DG8 in retrofitting a Bombardier Class 170 Turbostar DMUs leased to East Midlands Railway with with Eminox SCRT technology to evaluate whether this can reduce CO, particulate, hydrocarbon and NOx emissions to make mid-life diesel engines more environmentally sustainable.

Zero emission rail freight power

Steamology Motion

Hydrogen-based steam turbine system to provide zero emission power for existing freight locomotives.


Riding Sunbeams

A direct connection between renewable energy generation and overhead electrifcation systems.




Resilient glazing to ensure passenger safety on trains and a potential CO2 emissions saving.

HydroFLEX raft production


£400 000 grant to support final production design and testing  by the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook of a hydrogen power pack intended to minimise the loss of passenger saloon space.

Low environmental impact composite  footbridge

Associated Utility Supplies

A footbridge made entirely from fibre reinforced polymer, which is designed to be significantly easier to install than an equivalent steel bridge to help reduce network disruption and local environmental damage.

Optimised and cost-effective maintenance





Integrated optical fibre sensing (OptRail-PRO) 


Optic fibre sensors to monitor the condition of switches and crossings.

Train axle crack monitoring

TAMON - Perpetuum

Using sensors and pattern-recognition technologies to identify cracks in axles, helping to reduce returns to depot.

High speed cryogenic blasting for rail cleaning to alleviate low adhesion

University of Sheffield

High speed cryogenic cleaning system for tracks to prevent low adhesion and slow running of trains.



Data gathering to ensure the maintenance of optimum rail alignment.

Thermal radiometry for the remote condition monitoring of railway vehicles

Rail Innovations

Using thermal radiometry camera technology to measure temperatures of mechanical systems on moving trains, sending automatic alarms in the event of over heating.

Optimised railway operations







Minimising disruption of overhead line renewals via novel headspan assemblies

Associated Utility Supplies 

Span wire clamping system to enable rapid, low-cost overhead line equipment headspan renewals with minimum network disruption.

Trainserv software user trial and preparation for commercialisation


Integrating multiple sources of real-time data for use by rail workers to help them improve services and respond to incidents.

Cleartrak on-train testing 


Innovative and efficient system for processing toilet waste, reducing cost and maintenance requirements.

IRIS: information system for railway station staff

Liverpool John Moores University

An information system for frontline station staff to enhance communication and enable them to help passengers in making travel decisions and planning more effectively.

Railway optical detection & obstructions - tunnel & station monitoring

Vortex IoT 

Sensors and data analysis tools to detect and identify intrusion and obstructions on the track, and send real-time situational alerts to the rail control centre to prompt further investigation. 

Improving resilience through a surface water flooding decision support system

JBA Consulting

This project seeks to develop a first of a kind surface water flood forecasting and early warning system for Network Rail using technology and data to map the surface water flood likelihood in real time, ahead of the event and forecast rainfall intensity.

Improved railway operations through train-mounted water addition


Spraying a small amount of water from the train when slippery rails are detected to improve traction and braking, and prevent subsequent services from being affected.