First of a Kind 2020 launched to find new innovative railway ideas

Credit: GOV

Organisations developing technology focused on making rail journeys faster and greener could receive a share of £9.4 million to bring make their ideas a reality.

The Department for Transport is working with Innovate UK to launch the 2020 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition.

To mark the launch, Future of Transport Minister George Freeman will be visiting former competition winner Riding Sunbeams today, a project connecting solar directly to the railway.

The pilot, based near Aldershot in Hampshire, is supplying power to Network Rail’s infrastructure on its line to Alton.

This January Innovate UK will run events across the country to speak to innovators and inventors.

Last year saw 124 innovators apply for a share of £7.8 million.

What did the officials say?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

For 2 centuries the UK has been at the cutting edge of rail technology. FOAK 2020 is part of the research and innovation melting pot that will keep us there as we enter another decade.

To build the railway of tomorrow we have to support the inventors and innovators of today. This competition is designed to find the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and help them create the technology that defines our railway in the future.

Future of Transport Minister George Freeman said:

We have committed to lead the world in transport decarbonisation & emissions reduction through our NetZero programme.

By investing in renewable technologies the UK benefits from both growth in the green economy and cleaner, greener transport.

Competitions like FOAK are the stimulus for innovations which have the potential to revolutionise modern railways: here and worldwide.

The country that invented the train, jet engine and the Harrier jump jet is now leading the green transport revolution.

Having already supported trains that run on sunlight and hydrogen, drones to survey our tracks and technology to tackle leaves on the line, the UK is fast becoming once again a hub of global innovation in transport.

Simon Edmonds, Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK, said:

The UK’s rail network is one of the nation’s vital economic assets. That is why we are all committed to improving it and building on its green credentials.

We are looking for pioneering projects from great British innovators to make the railway ever more reliable and sustainable.

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