Home » HS2 encourages ‘new thinking’ as it launches rail systems innovation competition

HS2 encourages ‘new thinking’ as it launches rail systems innovation competition

by Liam Turner
A digital train

The company delivering Britain’s new high-speed rail network, HS2, has launched an innovation competition in a bid to bring “new thinking” to the installation of rail systems infrastructure.

HS2 is looking for companies of any size and industry to enter its competition and propose new ideas to automate rail systems installation in four categories: tunnel systems; signalling; slab track, and cabling.

The competition is also seeking “innovative thinking” on the deployment of electric multi-purpose vehicles designed to supply rail systems equipment to work sites along the line, including tunnels, where emissions-free vehicles could provide greater work schedule flexibility, HS2 says.

Winners of the competition will be supported by the high-speed rail programme for the following six months to refine their technology before presenting a working prototype to HS2 and UK rail operators.  

The competition is part of the wider First of a Kind initiative, launched in partnership with Department for Transport and Innovate UK, which aims to drive efficiency improvements and increase value for money across the rail industry through technical innovation.


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Commenting on the scheme, HS2 Innovation manager, Jon Kelly said: “HS2’s rail systems installation programme, initially stretching from London to Birmingham, will be of a scale previously unseen in the UK.

“It is a huge opportunity to develop new technology, applications, and techniques to fit out the first phase of Britain’s new high-speed rail network.

“Tech innovations developed under our First of a Kind programme for HS2 could also be deployed on the conventional network, creating opportunities for both the successful innovators and the track operators.”

The application period for the First of a Kind 2023 competition is from 14 June to 9 August.

Image: Vink Fan/Shutterstock


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