A trailblazing event to help find innovative, environmentally-friendly and cost-saving solutions to the way East West Rail is designed and built that aims to set a blueprint for the future of UK rail delivery, has been praised by suppliers.
EWR Co’s first ever Trackathon was attended by more than 50 suppliers and innovators who were tasked with exploring solutions to six industry-related innovation challenges, such as increasing the quality and use of recycled materials, enabling efficient earthworks, reducing the cost of concrete construction and mitigating supply bottlenecks.
The challenges were chosen as those that are among the most important in reducing cost and carbon impact at EWR in its ambition to deliver the benefits of a sustainable new railway more quickly than previous rail projects, while ensuring the best value for the taxpayer.
During the event, SMEs specialising in recycling, concrete construction, supply chains, earthworks and infrastructure maintenance, were split into groups according to pre-selected challenges, supported by EWR experts.
They created a short pitch document describing the problem, their proposed solution and its potential benefits before later pitching their solutions to EWR’s Innovation Team.
Will Reddaway, Head of Innovation at EWR Co, said: “One of our innovation goals is to enable faster and cheaper delivery of East West Rail and we are keen to work in partnership with suppliers to achieve this in a sustainable way.
“The Trackathon is a fantastic way of finding solutions to some of our innovation and design challenges as it brings together supply chain and engineering experts with a wide range of knowledge and experience of the rail and construction industry.
“Harnessing this knowledge, we can work collaboratively to generate ideas which will give a real boost to our future customer experiences, helping us to design and construct a first-class railway to suit the communities it will serve while saving public money at the same time.”
The supplier pitches included:
- A cable management system manufactured from 100% recycled plastic, offering a 50- year design life and significant safety, efficiency and project carbon savings
- 3D concrete printing which can be 30% faster and 20% cheaper than traditional methods by using less material, creating less waste and enhancing safety through less manual handling
- “Self-healing technology” that mimics the vascular system in the human body by embedding a vascular system in infrastructure to autonomously deliver a healing agent for cracks, minimising the need for actions associated with repairs and maintenance
- Automated rolling stock inspection equipment and services using a mixture of high-speed cameras, lasers and acoustics to minimise vehicle down time and extend the life of safety critical components, resulting in significant savings.
John Ryan, Director at SymTerra, the site management tool connecting the supply chain, said: “There is enormous potential for innovation to bring greater efficiency to the delivery and maintenance of our rail infrastructure, particularly when the entire supply chain is pulling in the same direction. Collaboration is the key to better adoption of new solutions and industry practices, and it’s great to have been part of this forward-thinking initiative.”
Dr Mani Entezami, Chief Technology Officer of MoniRail, which specialises in railway track and train ride quality monitoring, said:“Trackathon provides an excellent platform for industry partners to collaborate, learn, and achieve collective goals. This event effectively engages SMEs and fosters innovation, ensuring high-quality collaboration. By identifying challenges, developing suitable solutions, and gaining insights into the market and appropriate products, we pave the way for successful rail projects.”
Reaction to the event: