20 February 2015
If a rail signal system fails, everyone is affected- from passengers on the train, to those waiting at the next stations, to rail staff and rail companies- and all of them collectively will the train to keep moving onwards.
Yet keeping the trains running despite signal failure is a complex, multi-faceted problem. If addressed, it would also have many benefits whilst creating the innovative rail system our future demands.
ENCOURAGING INNOVATIVE IDEAS AND TECHNOLOGIES
To achieve this, innovators, system integrators, technology suppliers and developers, engineers, and technical specialists from a wide range of sectors such as logistics, transportation, defence and security, tracking and positioning, IT, and communications are being encouraged to submit proposals in an innovation competition. The ideas proposed can include the central integrated control system; associated sensor and data technologies to determine the train’s authority to move; as well as the technology to give rail staff a more accurate view of a train’s position, speed and direction of travel.
Named COMPASS (COMbined Positioning Alternative Signalling System), the competition launched this month with a value of £4million, and is sponsored by Network Rail, the Rail Strategy & Safety Board (RSSB), and the rail industry’s innovation accelerator- FutureRailway.
CONNECTING AND COLLABORATING
Open Innovation Consultants InnovationXChange (IXC UK), with recognised expertise in partnerships and cross-sector collaborations, have been supporting FutureRailway in bringing together innovators within this COMPASS project. But it is not only inventors and technology suppliers who are collaborating- the organisers themselves have reached out to work across organisational boundaries, and include the rail industry, the Transport Research Laboratory and IXC, working side by side to embed innovation into the railways of tomorrow.
Last week, IXC were at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, helping interested innovators connect and collaborate for this COMPASS challenge. Attendees consisted of over 100 representatives of technology providers from corporates, SMEs, and academia, covering a breadth of sectors including rail, automotive, defence, maritime and space.
FORMING INNOVATION GROUPS
After key speeches from the rail industry sponsors describing the scope and delving into further detail of the challenge, there was, as Russ Noble (Commercial Director, IXC) describes, an “excellent networking opportunity for the attendees to begin to start exploring collaboration and partnering opportunities for the competition.”
With attendee feedback already describing the COMPASS event as excellent and very useful- and the networking opportunities being especially appreciated- the promising technologies and collaborative innovators in attendance bode well for making headway in this innovation challenge.
Forming Innovation Groups for the COMPASS competition
To find out more about the COMPASS (COMbined Positioning Alternative Signalling System) competition, visit the FutureRailway site.