Ever since the privatisation of the UK railway industry in the early 1990s, the country’s passenger train services have been operated by a number of private companies, usually on a “franchise” basis that sees the firms bidding to run the route in question for a specified time period in a market which has seen high growth and an increasing need to provide integrated services.
The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) is supporting the Department for Transport (DfT) Rail Executive in addressing this challenge and increasing the levels of innovation and intelligent mobility within the franchising system.
Working alongside the DfT, Future Railway, the Rail Safety Standards Board and the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering within the Innovation in Rail Franchising group, the TSC has already made significant progress in this area. Following on from the inclusion of specific innovation requirements for prospective franchisees, the TSC has devised a new Innovation Strategy to ensure that innovation remains a permanent priority within the franchise system.
A TSC research and benchmarking project has also helped develop a major new innovation fund as part of the franchising process to stimulate new investments in innovation. As part of a rounded strategy, work is focusing on process, funding and people capacity development to help meet the UKs ambition of securing a world class railway.
Overall, the Innovation in Rail Franchising programme aims to stimulate world-class innovation and promote the adoption of intelligent mobility within the rail industry, as well as looking to apply the programme’s findings to the benefit of the wider transport industry.
Project status: Underway
Project partners: Department for Transport; Future Railway; Rail Safety Standards Board; National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering