Research and Innovation in Progress

Follow the progress of our research, so you can see what is on the way and get a flavour of how it may impact you soon. These projects may align with work you are already developing, an upcoming opportunity or inform some of your procurement plans. If an item grabs your attention, be sure to let us know, so we can factor in your needs and timescales.

Composite Metrics for Managing Workforce Health and Wellbeing

Management of workforce health risks is less well established than that of safety risk.

The rail industry is planning improvements to the way it assesses and manages the health aspects of its operations. It is also exploring what types of workforce health and wellbeing data to collect and how to analyse and report on that data.

Completed research (T1094) identified a set of useful health and wellbeing metrics to be collected by industry and submitted to the RSSB for benchmarking and trend analysis. Current research is focusing on bringing together the data to compare the impact of different causes of ill health on the person and the industry, as is currently done for safety-related harm.

Get involved

If you or your organisation would like to be involved in the workforce health project, get in touch with Darryl Hopper, Principal Health and Wellbeing Specialist.


Recycled Carbon Fibre Composite Bogie

Lighter, smarter bogie could reduce wear, cut energy consumption and be more reliable.

A new prototype bogie made from recycled carbon fibre composite is 36 per cent lighter than the steel equivalent – a weight saving of 590kg. The bogie is equipped with fibre optic sensors to measure strain and temperature in real time, detecting and monitoring damage and providing lifetime structural health monitoring.

The bogie frame and attached fittings are based on an existing Class 180 multiple unit, so all the equipment and running gear will be interchangeable. It will be fully compliant with the railway standards, including resistance to fire.

Benefits of the carbon fibre bogie include:

  • reduction of track wear and infrastructure maintenance costs, due to reduced vertical and transverse loads on the rails
  • improved reliability and operational availability, due to the embedded health-monitoring system
  • reduction in energy consumption and carbon footprint.

This use of carbon fibre composites could be a forerunner to other commercial applications of the material in the railway industry.

The project consortium is led by ELG Carbon Fibre, with Magma Structures carrying out the composite design and manufacture. The University of Birmingham has contributed the incorporation of fibre optic strain monitoring. Full-scale tests are taking place at the University of Huddersfield on the HAROLD (Huddersfield Adhesion & Rolling Contact Laboratory Dynamics) test rig.

Get involved

Discussions are underway about manufacturing the bogies for operational use. For more details about the project or to get involved in the next phase, contact Camille Seurat, Product Development Engineer, ELG Carbon Fibre.


Data-driven Approaches to Improving Reliability and Punctuality

The Data Sandbox+ competition, in partnership with Network Rail, is funding projects that demonstrate novel solutions for improving the running of the railway.

Leveraging the data collected by the rail industry is vital to improving services and the customer experience. With Data Sandbox+, we are helping to make data accessible to those who can develop solutions to improve operational performance.

Three of the Data Sandbox+ projects build on successful work undertaken as part of the original competition, launched in 2017 and completed earlier this year:

  • Risk Solutions, in collaboration with Steer, Tracsis, City University, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Southampton, will produce a rail incident simulation and performance modelling application to support strategic decision-making. It aims to help operators understand the root causes of delays, test new timetables, and measure the benefits of delay-reduction strategies
  • Porterbrook, in collaboration with ScotRail, the University of Southampton and Elastacloud, will build and demonstrate software that can be used to analyse data from sensors on ScotRail Class 158s. Given the high percentage of delays attributed to dwell time, the tool will assess the impact of train door performance or external factors, on dwell, and identify opportunities to minimise delays.
  • The University of Southampton, in collaboration with Network Rail and Bellvedi/Tracsis, will investigate the timetabling process. This is to identify the causes of small, timetable- related primary and secondary delays that could be reduced or eliminated.

Another project proposes a new data-driven solution:

  • Zipabout, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and London North Eastern Railway, will use dynamic and flexible data- driven approaches to predicting delays. The project will use real- time machine-learning models to deliver personalised information to passengers, helping to spread passenger load across the network and minimise the impact of incidents.

Get involved

Find out more about the teams and projects – and how to apply for funding as part of round two of the competition.

If you are interested in helping to steer the direction of the work by joining the industry advisory group for one of these projects, contact Giulia Lorenzini.

"The Rail Performance Model [developed for the original Data Sandbox initiative] currently represents our best opportunity to model the spread of reactionary delay in a way that balances modelling cost and accuracy to our satisfaction. By getting a good handle on reactionary delays the potential improvements to punctuality are huge – for GWR and the national rail network."

Simon Greenwood
Performance Analysis Manager, Great Western Railway


Very light rail – short range transport of the future

Construction of a hybrid- powered very light rail demonstrator is underway.

Very light rail (VLR) could play an important role in decarbonising GB transport, providing integrated, sustainable, affordable short-range transport, connecting rural areas into the mainline rail network. VLR vehicles could be significantly cheaper than a heavy rail vehicle of similar capacity.

The project is part-funded by the RSSB Innovation Grant and run by Revolution VLR, a consortium led by Transport Design International (TDI) Ltd and supported by Cummins, Eversholt Rail, Prose AG, RDM Group, Transcal Engineering and Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick.

The demonstrator vehicle will feature:

  • twin diesel-electric hybrid power- packs with lithium titanate energy storage
  • a modular, lightweight body structure to minimise weight and manufacturing costs
  • a target tare weight of one tonne per linear metre.

Get involved

If your company has access to a segregated alignment (a route protected from interaction with roads, cars and other traffic) and might be interested in hosting live trials, please contact Wendy Filer, Marketing and Business Support Manager at Eversholt Rail Group.


Next read >>> How to get involved

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
Get in touch with our Research and Innovation Account Manager for further information.
Robert Staunton
Tel: 020 3142 5585
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