Winners of Network Rail’s £300,000 automated design prize unveiled

Four winners are set to share a slice of a £300,000 prize after proving their ability to develop solutions that apply automated design to track layout, overhead line electrification, traction power supply systems, and signalling systems.

Launched by Network Rail and working with Innovate UK, the winners include Costain Limited, Graffica Limited, PEAN Technologies Limited and Plume Rail Limited.

After details were announced in November, the process has been to find firms which could build safer and higher-capacity railway infrastructure, save money and improve services.

With statistics showing 1.7 billion passengers using the UK rail network each year and this number more than doubling in the last 20 years, Network Rail is looking to explore more innovative ways to design railway infrastructure that will support growth in future capacity.

Network Rail, through the Whole System Modelling programme, will continue to work closely with Innovate UK and the competition winners to give them the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their automated design tools.

Commenting, Atish Chauhan, project manager at Network Rail said: “I am really pleased that the challenge we set out in our competition generated a lot of interest and that companies have come back with some excellent ideas and solutions. Using automated design will help Network Rail with producing better designs faster and support our support long-term service planning by allowing better assumptions about future infrastructure and associated changes to services.”

Kelvin Davies, innovation lead for rail at Innovate UK added: “The collaboration between Innovate UK and Network Rail has seen the delivery of a very successful competition with a high level of interest, bringing together a range of organisations with different skills and specialisms. We look forward to working with Network Rail to deliver the exciting portfolio of projects over the coming 12 months and to help demonstrate the capability of automated design for planning different aspects of future railway systems.”

Winning bids

  • Costain Limited

Project name: Rail: Automated Infrastructure Design – R:AID

Partner Organisation: Bryden Wood Technology Limited

Costain and Bryden Wood's longstanding and innovative partnership is leading disruption of the traditional design/engineering services marketplace through the development of an integrated suite of tools to automatically design the infrastructure of the future.

  • Graffica Limited

Project name: Infrastructure Design and Evaluation Framework

Partner Organisation: VolkerRail Specialist Businesses Limited

Graffica will explore how existing tools can be integrated to make use of data from specialist railway tools and other third-party sources.

  • PEAN Technologies Limited

Project name: Development of automated track layout design tools

PEAN Technologies aim to develop a suite of tools that will generate and automatically adjust track layouts until they are clash free and compliant with the user-defined criteria.

  • Plume Rail Limited

Project name: Automated Traction Power Simulation and Design

Plume Rail are looking to develop a solution that will allow for quicker assessment of the impact of changes on the network’s power system. Solutions will be driven by the needs of timetable planners and modellers.

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