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SBRI: FOAK 2022 Rail Freight

Fund Name

SBRI: FOAK 2022 Rail Freight

Project Length

Up to 12 months

Project Value

£150,000 - £400,000



Your project must create a highly interactive and innovative demonstrator. This should be in an environment where railway customers and industry representatives can witness the product as a compelling business proposition.

Example environments can include:

  • within a railway station
  • in rolling stock
  • on railway infrastructure
  • in the environment close to the railway

Check Your Eligibility

Fund Details

You must describe your projects potential to be successfully exploited in a railway environment. We encourage you to discuss regulations, policy and other requirements with potential customer organisations before you submit your application.

Your project must:

  • gather evidence about integration challenges and explain how you will de-risk the integration
  • demonstrate to railway stakeholders and customers the commercial benefits of the solution
  • make taking up technologies less risky and faster
  • be pre-commercial
  • collect customer and performance feedback
  • provide a business case for using the solution in a commercial environment
  • consider the priorities of current and future franchises
  • include an evaluation phase, collecting data to support the cost benefit assessment of your proposed solution

You must provide evidence, showing your innovation can attract customers, get insurance, supply warranties, and attract financing.

Your evidence must show:

  • the technology works as designed when integrated into larger complex systems and delivers the expected outcomes
  • the technology is accepted by and delivers benefits for customers and the broader rail industry
  • there is revenue potential for the innovation within a real commercial context
  • the financing and business models can be delivered within a complex programme and consortium structure

You must demonstrate potential benefits to passengers and customers, including:

  • why customers would buy the product
  • how the funding will help applicants grow and result in broader economic benefits

For your theme 2 – Rail Freight project, you must work with a railway partner to deliver a demonstration of your innovation in a live railway environment.

You must also include an evaluation activity to identify the cost and benefits of your deliverables, and to support commercial uptake of your product.

You must present at an industry briefing event to highlight the benefits you can bring to the railways.

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • innovation to support modal shift to rail for freight services
  • innovation to deliver rail freight growth, increase efficiency and meet future customer needs
  • improved timetabling and scheduling, to allow a wider variety of freight to be shipped, including keeping freight running during engineering work.
  • improved routing and tracking capabilities, for example to ensure that the railway can integrate fully with intermodal freight and services to develop new markets for light packed, high value goods
  • innovation which supports rail freight resilience
  • flexible interiors for light freight
  • innovation to reduce the noise impact of freight trains
  • innovation to decarbonise rail freight and to improve air quality
  • freight handling automation
  • multi-functional rolling stock
  • innovation to make electrification compatible with freight depots
  • innovation to increase average speed and to support high-speed rail freight services to improve competitiveness with other modes
  • delivery of freight by rail into congested city centres.
  • next generation logistics
  • automated modal interchanges, allowing freight to be transferred quickly and efficiently for onward transit
  • innovation to support freight operations during railway construction, such as spoil disposal
  • better wagon design and maintenance
  • improved operation through new freight hubs
  • self-assembling consists
  • repurposing of redundant passenger and freight rolling stock
  • freight solutions which work in tandem with passenger services
  • innovation that might support future autonomous freight trains
  • lower cost of whole life operation for rail freight
  • innovation to make rail freight more competitive compared to other transport modes and to reduce freight costs
  • passenger luggage solutions
  • innovation in freight diversionary activities
  • last mile interface for freight delivery
  • reduction of end-to-end freight journey times


Your project:

can start by 1 October 2022
must end by 30 September 2023
can last up to 12 months

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors

Applicants are welcome from all sectors.

Your project must involve:

  • an owner of railway assets (for example stations, rolling stock or infrastructure)
  • an experienced railway organisation
  • a rail organisation that has the potential to become a customer

These criteria can be met by a single organisation or up to three separate organisations.

You must also:

  • include a potential integration partner
  • have a letter of support signed by a senior individual, from a potential railway customer organisation

Proposals into this competition must already be high maturity at Rail Industry Readiness level 5 or above. You must evidence this as part of your application.

Talk to us today if you would like to apply for this opportunity.

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