UK announces winners of FOAK competition for rail technology

The UK Government has announced the winners of the latest round of the 2021 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition for new rail technology.

Launched in February, the competition seeks to deliver solutions for making the railways greener, cleaner, and more passenger friendly.

Winners of the fifth round of the competition will provide technology that will help in enhancing rail journeys and encourage commuters back onto the network after the pandemic.

The Department for Transport, in collaboration with Innovate UK, has financed 30 project totalling $12.40m (£9m).

One of the winning projects includes a 360-degree virtual reality immersive journey planning application for trains and stations.

This application will aim to reduce passenger anxiety, aiding commuters to understand their journey before they start travelling.

Another winning project includes an application that will connect rail passengers to the world outside their train.

The application will utilise geo-location and provide historical information regarding places passengers will travel through.

Other winning projects include a system to oversee passenger flow, congestion points and behaviour at stations, allowing operators to deploy timely countermeasures.

A project that utilises electromagnetism for secure and predictable braking in severe conditions while improving acceleration has also secured its position in the competition.

A scheme that offers an interchangeable interior train carriage for rapid deep cleaning, enabling operators to rearrange a train’s seating arrangement at short notice, was also successful.

Prior to this, the UK Government announced $6.89m (£5m) in funding to kickstart the development of the Rail Data Marketplace.

In a separate development, HS2 has launched the second of two 2,000t tunnelling machines, Cecilia, to dig the 16km-long tunnels under the Chiltern hills outside London.

The first machine, named Florence, was launched in May this year.

For this high-speed rail project, a total of ten tunnel boring machines will create 64 miles of tunnel between London and the West Midlands.

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