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.
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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Information is a strategically critical resource, a corporate asset that is vital to our future and the future of our industry partners. Our telecommunications network should serve the communication requirements of all rail industry customers.
Buildings and Civils assets within Network Rail comprise bridges, tunnels, earthworks, station buildings, drainage, risks from mine workings and much more. They are a rich and diverse asset group with an average age of greater than 100 years. They are frequently heterogeneous, complex, safety critical, listed and have extremely high impact of failure.
- Bridges – Establishing condition of hidden critical elements (PDF)
- Bridges – Scour prevention and management (PDF)
- Bridges – Tenanted arches (PDF)
- Buildings – Provide a safe and efficient method to enable building facade inspections without impacting on the operation of the environs (PDF)
- Buildings and Architecture – Extending the Life of an Existing Footbridge Asset for 10 years Within an 8 Hour Working Period (PDF)
- Buildings and Architecture – Provide a Safe and Efficient Method to Enable Non Destructive Testing of Hidden Metallic Standalone Column (PDF)
- Buildings and Architecture – Self-maintaining Materials (PDF)
- Buildings and Architecture – Transferring Customers Across Tracks (PDF)
- Buildings and Architecture – Surface Condensation Reducing Slip Resistance (PDF)
- Bridges – Preventing bridge strikes (PDF)
- Structures – Health monitoring and prognosis (PDF)
- Drainage – Efficient and effective drainage interventions (PDF)
- Drainage – Improving drainage asset management decision making (PDF)
- Drainage – Improving drainage system performance (PDF)
- Drainage – Safe and efficient drainage inspections and monitoring (PDF)
- Drainage – Understanding drainage system capability (PDF)
- Earthworks – Detection of asset failure by means other than train drivers (PDF)
- Tunnels – Alternative methods for patch repairs in tunnels (PDF)
- Tunnels – Capability assessment tool for tunnel masonry linings (PDF)
- Tunnels – High output tunnel repairs and enlargement (PDF)
- Mining – Mitigation of Shallow Mining Risks (PDF)
- Mining – Mining Ground Investigations (PDF)
Electrification and plant (E&P) encompasses the overhead catenary (wires) system with associated distribution equipment from the national grid (electrification). The plant part is stand by signalling, point heating and pumps among other assets.
Sustainable development means making sure that everything we build, manage service or develop today leaves a lasting positive legacy for future generations with the impact on the environment and society at the forefront of all decisions. We believe that good management of our economic, social and environmental impacts is key to maintaining a strong and prosperous business.
- Environment – Improving vegetation management decision making (PDF)
- Environment – Implementing energy reduction activities to reduce our carbon impact (PDF)
- Environment – Using large-scale renewable developments to enable decentralised supply to the rail infrastructure (PDF)
- Environment – Adapting the railway for improved resilience against future weather conditions as a result of climate change (PDF)
- Reducing the number of Tresspass Incidents and their impact on the railway
Level crossings represent one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway. They are the main interface between the rail and the road networks. There are approximately 6,000 level crossings across the network, ranging from passive crossings with simplest risk controls through to public road crossings with active risk control.
We want to explore where remote condition monitoring (RCM) sensor technology and advanced analytic techniques can be combined to enable a transition to predictive and preventative maintenance. Predictive and preventative maintenance will reduce time to fix upon failure, increase efficiency, optimise reliability and ultimately provide better value to the end customer.
This includes on-track Plant (OTP), on-track machines (OTM), portable and transportable plant, depot plant and fixed plant. With the increased demands for network capacity, we need to find technological solutions that reduce or eliminate the risk of human error.
Track, lineside and switches and crossings strategy is to continually improve asset safety, performance, reliability and costs, as part of an integrated system, using our engineering expertise to deliver optimised policy, standards, processes and tools.
- Lineside – Boundary management (PDF)
- Lineside – Safe and effective lineside inspections (PDF)
- Lineside – Vegetation management (PDF)
- Lineside – Asset management (PDF)
- Lineside – Road Vehicle Incursion (PDF)
- Switches and crossings – Reliable and resilient switches (PDF)
- Switches and crossings – Reliable and resilient crossings (PDF)
- Track – Plain line rail head squats (PDF)
- Track – Rail stress management (PDF)
- Track – Reliable and resilient track geometry (PDF)
- Track – Speed restrictions (PDF)
- Track – Re-profiling rail to remove defects and extend rail life (PDF)
- Track – Improved application of friction management (PDF)
- Welding Process and Technology Development (PDF)
- Visual Track Inspections (PDF)
- Ultrasonic Rail Inspection (PDF)
- Rail Running Surface Inspections (PDF)