Challenge statements

The challenge statements have been created to support our technical strategy and the railway’s future vision as set out in the Rail Technical Strategy

Each challenge statement details a specific business obstacle and provides detail on definition, root cause analysis, priority areas of focus and a section outlining guidance for research and development.

The aim is to raise industry awareness of our priority challenges and promote research and development into new ideas and technologies to solve them. The challenges will form the foundation of our investment strategy for Control Period 6 (2019-2024) and, once solved, have the potential to deliver significant business benefits.

We will continue to add detail and further challenge statements.

Next steps

If you think you have a solution or an idea that you would like to speak to us about then please fill in the research and development challenge form (docx) and email it to

If your idea or proposal sparks interest, we will invite you in to present to us.

If we want to take your idea forward, you could receive any of the following:

  • potential funding – limited amounts available from Network Rail
  • data provisions to help develop your product
  • opportunities to engage and seek input and expertise from our engineers
  • introductions to our test facility Rail Innovation & Development Centres or support in identifying appropriate test locations along the routes
  • support in obtaining external funding opportunities
  • support with any Network Rail processes – in particular product acceptance
  • honest and open commercial conversations
  • knowledge and understanding of our Rail Industry Readiness Levels (RIRLs) to facilitate your product development and support preparation for implementation.

We are very eager to work with the supply chain and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to assist in the development of ideas, products and challenges. We are keen to open up commercial conversations anywhere possible, as well as direct to other external funding opportunities.

Network Rail actively encourages suppliers and stakeholders to proactively challenge our standards to increase innovation and creativity and to reduce costs. If your proposal directly addresses a Network Rail standard, please complete a standard change application form

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