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New tech to tackle leaves on the line and de-ice platforms set to revolutionise British rail travel

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Department for Transport

National competition awards £9.4 million funding to innovative projects that will make railways cleaner, greener and more passenger-friendly.

  • twenty-five projects across Great Britain win share of £9.4 million in fourth round of First of a Kind competition
  • projects including innovative 5G wifi infrastructure, hydrogen-powered freight trains and speedy new seat-switching app awarded funding
  • government-backed fund aims to bring new technology onto the railways to make them cleaner, greener and safer, as the UK leads the way to net zero carbon emissions

Automatic de-icing concrete on platforms and a rapid seat reservation-swapping service could soon make journeys easier by banishing slippery surfaces in winter and guaranteeing passengers a seat, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced yesterday (17 June 2020), following a national competition to make the railways cleaner, greener and more passenger-friendly.

The Department for Transport, in partnership with Innovate UK, has awarded 25 pioneering projects a share of £9.4 million in the 2020 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, which encourages innovation in the rail industry.

Inventors have come forward with a host of ambitious projects to transform rail travel, including low-energy concrete slabs that automatically heat up in freezing conditions to help prevent passengers from slipping on icy platforms and the Seatfrog Train Swap app, which will allow passengers to quickly and remotely update their seat reservation to another service.

Several winning projects will also help the government reduce the railway’s environmental impact and support decarbonisation, including a world-first zero emission machine for removing and replacing rails, and hydrogen-based steam turbines to provide zero-emission, low-noise rail freight.

Other schemes supported by the competition include next-generation lightweight composite poles to provide passengers with faster, more reliable 5G wifi, and the development of safer and more resilient glazing for train windows to help prevent glass windows being smashed and protect passengers.

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