DfT Funding to Advance the Development of Sustainable Self-Charging Trains

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is funding a series of projects to advance the future of Britain’s rail network.

In partnership with Innovate UK, the DfT has awarded more than 5 million GBP in grants to 24 innovators through the First of a Kind (FOAK) 2022 competition.

This funding will contribute to new concepts that aim to transform and further decarbonise rail travel.

DfT Funding
Self-charging trains and pioneering batteries among projects to be funded by Department for Transport to create the trains of tomorrow
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said:

“The UK has a long history of leading the way in railway innovation and the First of a Kind competition is getting the great brains of today to create the trains of tomorrow.

“Through millions of pounds worth of Government funding, we are breathing life into ideas that will revolutionise our railways and make them greener than ever before.

“This is just the beginning and, as Transport Secretary, I am determined to support British innovation and create a cutting edge, green rail industry that delivers even more benefits for passengers and freight.”

Supported by this DfT funding, Varamis will work with DHL and Fedex to repurpose former passenger carriages to create high-speed, parcel delivery services.

Meanwhile, Echion Technologies is developing batteries that can charge using overhead wires and then operate on unelectrified section of track. This will enable the vehicles to run as ‘self-charging trains.’

In addition, Thales Ground Transportation Systems has developed new sensors to detect people approaching tracks and give an early warning and an accurate location to staff. This technology could reduce disruption and act as suicide intervention, while also preventing trespassers such as protestors.

Mike Biddle, Executive Director for Net Zero at Innovate UK, said:

“The innovations funded though this competition will help to deliver a greener, lower-emissions railway carrying increasingly higher proportions of the UK’s freight.

“Delivered by Innovate UK, on behalf of the Department for Transport through the Small Business Research Initiative, it seeks the best and brightest ideas.

“Companies from all over the UK have demonstrated the quality of their innovations in previous rounds of this scheme. Now we will support even more innovations to help deliver a greener railway that benefits passengers, employees and customers for rail freight.”

Other winning projects include automatic systems that detect and stop track flooding, electric drivetrains that replace polluting diesel engines, and technology to instantly relay track information to improve safety.

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