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Our strategy and challenges for research, development and innovation

Research, development and innovation (RD&I) are critical to the future of rail

Two automatically operated trains passing at a station
Automatically operated trains

Our strategy and challenges…Pioneers Welcome!

Working with the UK rail industry through the Rail Technical Strategy (RTS), we are building long-term solutions in areas such as environmental sustainability, affordability, reliability and safety. 

Contributing to European and international strategy

Network Rail’s Technical Strategy aligns to the RTS and sets out our priorities and additional needs for managing our network, such as environmental concerns outlined in our Environmental Sustainability Strategy.     

As member of international railway organisations, we help to shape the future of rail globally and in particular future technology for rail. As a member of the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) strategy we have contributed to the Rail Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.

Challenges, opportunities and funding

You can find our current challenge statements here.  We are refreshing our challenges which we expect to publish in autumn 2021.

We invest directly in research, development and innovation through our R&D fund.  However, there are many sources of funding to support companies, including opportunities managed by UKRI.  We encourage companies to use these opportunities to create and demonstrate products and services that contribute to a better future railway. Where opportunities require sponsorship from a potential customer organisation, for example to facilitate testing, you can contact us to discuss your requirements and what we can do to help.

Working as part of a national infrastructure sector

We enjoy learning from, and sharing our RD&I with other organisations. As part of the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy, and as a member of the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership (i3P), we are tackling shared challenges and exploring how to exploit RD&I from one sector and apply in another.   

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