Network Rail and Innovate UK are pleased to announce Costain Limited, Graffica Limited, PEAN Technologies Limited and Plume Rail Limited are the winners of their collaborative research and development competition grant.

The competition, launched in November, asked entrants to develop solutions relevant to rail that apply automated design to track layout, overhead line electrification, traction power supply systems, and signalling systems. Automated design enables engineers to automatically explore a wide design space and identify the best design options quickly and in a cost-effective manner.

Following a competitive shortlisting process, the four winners were chosen and will share a slice of the £300,000 grant that will be put towards projects that develop and demonstrate tools to automatically plan rail infrastructure.

Atish Chauhan, project manager at Network Rail said: “I am really pleased that the challenge we set out in our competition generated a lot of interest and that companies have come back with some excellent ideas and solutions. Using automated design will help Network Rail with producing better designs faster and support our support long-term service planning by allowing better assumptions about future infrastructure and associated changes to services.”

Kelvin Davies, innovation lead for rail at Innovate UK said: “The collaboration between Innovate UK and Network Rail has seen the delivery of a very successful competition with a high level of interest, bringing together a range of organisations with different skills and specialisms. We look forward to working with Network Rail to deliver the exciting portfolio of projects over the coming 12 months and to help demonstrate the capability of automated design for planning different aspects of future railway systems.”

Network Rail, through the Whole System Modelling programme, will continue to work closely with Innovate UK and the competition winners to give them the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their automated design tools.


Notes to editors:

  • Network Rail’s Whole System Modelling programme aims to improve the way that we model and simulate the railway. This will enable our people to make better informed decisions at the right time to improve the service we provide for our passengers and freight customers
  • Funded by Network Rail, the competition aligns with the company’s Open for Business initiative making it easier for other organisations to invest and build on the railway
  • For more information on the competition visit –
  • Details of the winning entries are listed below:

    Costain Limited

    Project name: Rail: Automated Infrastructure Design – R:AID

    Partner Organisation: Bryden Wood Technology Limited

    Costain and Bryden Wood's longstanding and innovative partnership is leading disruption of the traditional design/engineering services marketplace through the development of an integrated suite of tools to automatically design the infrastructure of the future.

    Ian Parker, rail sector director at Costain said: “Costain’s purpose is to improve people’s lives with smart infrastructure solutions, so we are delighted to be part of this exciting project developing a data-centric infrastructure design process that will improve the efficiency of rail systems in a safe and transparent way.”

    David Owens, project manager at Costain said: “Working with Innovate UK and Bryden Wood we aim to bring a genuinely disruptive concept to Network Rail’s Whole System Modelling team in the development of our Rail: Automated Infrastructure Design (R:AID) toolkit. This is an important step in transforming infrastructure and improving project productivity by embracing cutting edge technology.”

    Graffica Limited

    Project name: Infrastructure Design and Evaluation Framework

    Partner Organisation: VolkerRail Specialist Businesses Limited

    Graffica will explore how existing tools can be integrated to make use of data from specialist railway tools and other third-party sources.

    Mike Vere, director, Graffica Ltd said: “This competition has offered a fantastic opportunity for Graffica to work with railway construction experts from Network Rail and industry to start to develop the next generation of tooling to design, evaluate and maintain future railway engineering projects.”

    PEAN Technologies Limited

    Project name: Development of automated track layout design tools

    PEAN Technologies aim to develop a suite of tools that will generate and automatically adjust track layouts until they are clash free and compliant with the user-defined criteria.

    Andy Wraight, lead developer at PEAN Technologies said: “Having previously worked as track layout design engineers on UK rail infrastructure projects, our experience has helped us identify areas of the track design process which are ripe for innovation and automation. This funding will provide us with the tools to develop the next generation of track design processes. As a newly formed start-up aiming to develop a novel product for a niche industry, it could be difficult to acquire funding via conventional means, so we are thankful for Network Rail’s support and belief in the project.”

    Plume Rail Limited

    Project name: Automated Traction Power Simulation and Design

    Plume Rail are looking to develop a solution that will allow for quicker assessment of the impact of changes on the network’s power system. Solutions will be driven by the needs of timetable planners and modellers.

    Robert Cahill, project director at Plume Rail said: “We aim to provide an integrated traction power modelling solution for scheme planners, using innovative cloud-based technology. This will allow for more efficient delivery of enhancement schemes for projects on the electrified network, and aid development of robust cost and programme estimates at early stages.”