Network Rail claim that an initiative to attract and implement new rail innovations is on track to deliver savings of nearly £40m by 2014.
The organisation launched its ‘Innovation and suggestions scheme’ six months ago, asking businesses to send in solutions to rail issues that include low cost fault reporting, alternative earthing systems and safety innovation.
Since then Network Rail says it has received over 200 submissions from national and international companies.
A number of the proposals are now being considered and several are being currently being implemented across the network.
Steve Yianni, Network Rail’s director of engineering, said: ‘There has been a fantastic response from businesses at home and abroad which we predict will help Network Rail make savings of around £38m by 2014.
‘We have been impressed by the thinking and enthusiasm to help make the railway safer, more efficient and more cost effective and are keen to develop the initiative further as there is the potential to deliver even greater savings between 2014 and 2019.
‘As well as working with established suppliers, we are keen to hear from organisations from outside the traditional rail industry which could help improve the railway. We are committed to delivering a better, safer railway that maximises value for money and are keen to work with any organisation which can help us achieve this.’
One solution being implemented is a camera, which can spot defects on the overhead rail wire 25ft above the operator’s head while another involves the redesign of sleeper.
Thameslink required a railway sleeper capable of housing a 53mm conductor rail, plus signalling and track cables. The original plan was to use a full depth sleeper with baseplates 65mm deeper than adjacent sleepers.
A solution from Cemex provides a wider, shallower sleeper with cast-in housings produced which deliver cost savings of 90 per cent against existing products, expected to be around £4m by 2014.
Network Rail says it can provide up £50,000 in seedcorn funding for innovators to develop their idea.
More information can be found here.