Other Sector Comparisons

UK: There is increasing confidence amongst rail professionals that the industry is innovative, a survey by the Railway Industry Association has found, but more needs to be done to celebrate and promote innovation in the sector.

The report compares the results of two surveys of rail professionals, conducted in 2019 and 2021 and says:

  • 62% of respondents in 2021 believed rail is ‘extremely, very or quite innovative’, a 12 point increase from 2019;
  • rail is seen as less innovative than the automotive, finance and defence sectors, but has seen the largest swing of those sectors from 2019 to 2021 in those saying it was ‘extremely, very or quite innovative’;
  • procurement, sponsorship and champions, and product approval were named as the three ‘priorities and processes’ that have the biggest impact on rail innovation, while the availability of funding, testing and trialling facilities and innovation advice were listed as the three ‘facilities and resources’ that have the biggest impact;
  • 56% of respondents said that the coronavirus pandemic had had a negative impact on their planned innovation projects in 2020-21.

‘As part of RIA’s Unlocking Innovation programme, we surveyed professionals from across the rail sector, gauging how innovative they believe the industry is’, said Technical Director David Clarke. ’The results give reason to be optimistic, showing a significant jump from 2019 to 2021 in the number of respondents saying the rail sector is innovative, from 50% to 62%.

’Yet, it also showed that more work needs to be done, particularly in areas like procurement and funding, to ensure rail suppliers have all the tools they need to bring new products and services into the market.

‘Although moving in the right direction, rail professionals still see their industry as less innovative than some others. Whilst it is unclear how objective this assessment is, it suggests that there is more to be done in celebrating and promoting rail industry innovation.