INNOVATION IN A CHANGING RAILWAY

ROGER FORD challenges some entrenched misperceptions

In 1998 Modern Railways launched the annual Railway Industry Innovation Awards in conjunction with now-defunct industry body the Railway Forum. Since then, the judging panel has evaluated thousands of submissions and made hundreds of awards and commendations.

And yet, today, it is regarded as axiomatic within government and academia that, compared with, say, the automotive and aerospace sectors, the railway industry has failed to innovate and should draw on the more-advanced technologies available from other industries. I am embarrassed to report that this view is even encouraged by some within the railway industry itself.

Yet the misperception has resulted in substantial government funding from the Department for Transport and sundry other agencies for what should properly be called railway Research & Development (R&D). Does this semantic distinction matter?

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