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News from the UK Rail Industry 20th June 2019

Posted by: Warren Drobac
Industry News

Funding announced for innovative ideas to transform UK railways 

New funding for innovative ideas from the Department for Transport (DfT) is set to see the UK rail network become more efficient, greener and cleaner.

Drones capable of inspecting railway infrastructure, hydrogen train trials and a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution are among 24 winning projects in the third round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, unveiled by the DfT.

Run by Innovate UK and funded by the DfT to support research, development and innovation in the UK rail industry, the competition seeks pioneering ideas that can be adapted to transform rail travel.

Strengthening resilience of railway infrastructure and operations, enhancing rail freight services, and reducing environmental and noise impacts were the themes for this round. Each of the winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000.

Among the successful projects is 4Silence’s plan to develop a noise-reducing wall that works by diffracting sound waves from passing trains upwards. This makes it as effective as a barrier 3 times its height.

Another scheme being supported is Amey VTOL’s development of a drone system that could carry out track inspections from the skies. This would avoid the need for people to set foot on railway infrastructure.

Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair and chief business officer, Innovate UK said: “The pioneering projects for which we have announced funding today can increase reliability, to keep services running, with real benefits to freight operators and the environment. The programme will also help innovative companies succeed, both here and in export markets.” Full story.

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Engineers achieve £7 million cost saving for HS2 station

Lead engineers on HS2’s Old Oak Common station have revealed a 27% reduction in the structural steel for the station roof at the west London super-hub.

Following the results from wind tunnel tests and a snow load review, the team of structural design engineers concluded that structural thicknesses and profiles in the station roof could be modified with a total steel reduction of over 1,000 tonnes. This is an amount equivalent to a 2,700 tonne reduction in embodied carbon, and a cost saving of £7m.

Matthew Botelle, HS2 programme director, said: “By challenging the standard design approach, the design team have realised savings in the roof steelwork tonnage that has significantly reduced cost, construction complexity and embodied carbon. This work is a great example of how the latest design thinking and techniques are being used on the HS2 programme to provide best value to the UK taxpayer.”

The roof at Old Oak Common comprises a series of tapered vaults with glazed roof-lights to provide ventilation and daylight for the station. Spanning up to 65 metres, the vaults are formed from fabricated steel box section arches and are supported on box section primary beams founded on tapered steel columns. Full story.

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