State-of-the art automated design is set to dramatically change the way we build and maintain Britain’s railway.

The technology, which we aim to implement at Network Rail for the first time next year, has the potential to shorten the amount of time it takes to design a route or piece of infrastructure from several months to just several days.

This will help us deliver new projects, repairs and upgrades to passengers much faster. We will also save substantial sums of money and maximise value for the taxpayer.

How?

This tool will automatically design elements of the railway such as track, power supply, signalling systems and bridges. It will do this by bringing together various sources of data railway design teams use and run through all the possible outcomes to find the safest and most efficient design

Automated design will help us deliver projects such as new signalling much faster

Why is it important?

Ultimately, it will improve the way 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 passengers and freight operators.

Using automated design will help Network Rail with producing better designs faster and support our long-term service planning by allowing better assumptions about future infrastructure and associated changes to services.

Atish Chauhan, a project manager at Network Rail

We’re working with four winners of a collaborative research and development competition grant we ran with government-backed innovation agency Innovate UK to choose the best way to implement automated design at Network Rail. The winners are: Costain, Graffica, PEAN Technologies and Plume Rail.

Kelvin Davies, innovation lead for rail at Innovate UK, said: “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.”

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