On July 2, Grant Shapps, the UK’s Secretary of Transport, announced the winners of FOAK, which funds innovative technologies that can revolutionize the rail industry.
As part of a partnership between the UK Department of Transportation and Innovate UK, FOAK has allocated 9 million for 30 winning projects. These are the projects that will make the railways more convenient for passengers after Post-Covid-19. These include planting and cleaning railways.
Despite the progress made by the industry, when it comes to rail travel, passengers are still hesitant. According to a survey by Milestone Systems, 39% of British travelers still do not feel safe and comfortable traveling on public transport.
To give the public more confidence in the sustainability and safety of the railways, UK innovators are being urged to come up with new ideas, explains Simon Edmonds, Innovat’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Travelers will not only be able to benefit from significant innovations but also have broader business prospects.
An app that connects passengers to landscapes via audiobooks and a changing train interior is among the winning ideas.
British company Signalbox Technologies is working on technology that uses geospatial visualization to get real-time information. In early 2021, Trainline partnered with Signalbox Technologies to launch travel detection software on the “Find My Train” international digital rail platform application.
With a 96,550 grant from FOAK, Signalbox Technologies creates a travel visualization system that allows passengers to accurately identify their train and create an experience shared with others.
According to the Signalbox project manager, real-time travel maps will be helpful and attractive for travelers. These tools make it possible to share live locations – they can enhance the experience of rail passengers with the help of smartphones.
Railway Interior Flexibility
The FOAK winners are transportation design firm PriestmanGoode, which received a 399,998 grant to build a flexible rail interior system.
According to Transport Focus, critical issues related to the railway are that passengers suffer from insecurity, social distance, lack of hygiene, and personal space. In October 2020, most respondents avoided public transport because the social distance was unprotected, and there was a lack of hygiene.
Experts predict that passenger mobility will be reduced even in the morning and evening hours, and preference will be given to bicycles.
The new plan includes protecting personal space in the carriages, the seat’s design, easier to clean, and more accurate safety measures.
The project will be developed in the next few months and be ready in 2022.
The Community Rail Content Platform is a project created in 2018 and aims to connect passengers with the landscape while traveling by train.
The company received a 150,000 grant to develop the program. The local stories presented in the app will be collected in partnership with the Public Railway and used by railway organizations through passenger technologies. The platform was used in Thailand, Wales, where studies showed a 22% increase in passenger numbers.
The company works directly with the people who know the railroad stories best. New technology will allow passengers to make their travel experience memorable and enjoyable. Getting people back on the train is the goal of this project, said Marcus Allender, director of business development.
The estimated completion date for the technology development is December 2021. The Window Seater will begin commercial acceptance in 2022, covering the integrity of the UK long-distance and rural network by the end of 2023.
Environmentally Friendly Space
The British company Clean Air Power is working on technology that generates enough energy to meet operating requirements. The first step will be to enable hydrogen-powered trains to use.
The initiative notes that this technology is widely used in the road industry and the rail freight sector. The works will take nine months.
The Managing Director of Clean Air Power expressed his joy at receiving financial support. The company successfully cooperates with Mercedes, Volvo, DHL, and other well-known brands. Their expectations are pretty high, and they want to put knowledge and experience in a new context.
Meteor Power, the British hybrid car developer, has received funding of up to 000 400,000 to equip older locomotives with a hybrid electric solution.
The program originated to accelerate the Green Revolution. Specially designed for truck locomotives that have been in operation for more than 60 years, are outdated or require parts that are no longer in production. The Meteor Power project will improve their hybrid electric motor.
In addition, the company received 400,000 to build an energy storage and supply system that stores energy as the train slows down and then releases it. According to the developers, the system will allow freight trains to accelerate faster.
It seems that Britain is actively trying to take care of the safety of passengers on public transport, which will be noticeable in the coming months.