The themes for the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, run by Innovate UK and funded by Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT), were strengthening resilience of railway infrastructure and operations, enhancing rail freight services, and reducing environmental and noise impacts. Each of the winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000.

The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and train leasing company Porterbrook, which formed a partnership in September 2018 to develop Britain’s first main line hydrogen train, have received funding to begin mainline testing in late 2019 and early 2020 on mainline infrastructure. The HydroFlex prototype will be unveiled at next week’s Rail Live event.

Other projects to receive funding include 4Silence, which is developing the “WHISwall,” a 1m-high concrete wall which uses diffraction to reduce noise by 8dB, comparable to a 3m-high noise barrier.

The University of Hull’s “NR+ Digitised Rail Infrastructure Platform for Planning” project will demonstrate the rail freight planning process of the integrated digital Network Rail Plus Suite (NR+Suite) of products.

iPort Rail App, developed by Hive Logic, is a collaborative digital platform which aims to substantially improve the rail-road freight interface. The project aims to develop a digital platform that will ease road to rail multi-modal freight.

The first two rounds of FOAK were launched in 2017 and 2018, and each saw 10 projects win a share of £3.5m.