Inspection drones and sound-bending walls secure slice of £7.8m rail innovation fund
Department for Transport announces winners of competition
Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA
Walls that bend sound and trains powered by hydrogen are among the ideas to receive a cut of a £7.8m government fund to support rail innovation.
The Department for Transport has chosen 24 projects to receive backing from the third funding round of its First of a Kind competition. Each of these will be given between £250,000 and £350,000.
Among the winning initiatives is a proposal from Dutch firm 4Silence to construct a wall capable of minimising noise by “diffracting sound waves from passing trains upwards”. This technology could be as effective at preventing noise as a normal wall of three times the height, the government said.
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The University of Birmingham will also receive funding to support what the government claimed is “the first mainline testing of a hydrogen-fuelled train in the UK”.
Another proposal to secure backing is a scheme dedicated to the “development of a drone system that could carry out track inspections from the skies”. This project will be run by specialist firm Amey VTOL.
Rail minister Andrew Jones said: “The First of a Kind competition has consistently produced truly innovative projects developed for the benefit of passengers, helping to drive forward a greener, cleaner and more efficient rail network. This round has been the biggest yet and I am excited to see how our funding will bring these ambitious ideas to fruition.”
The competition is run by government innovation agency Innovate UK. In each of its two previous funding rounds, it has awarded funding of £3.5m.
Although some parts of the new rail line may not open for two decades, DfT minister says the underlying tech will not have aged significantly by then
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