Funding competition SBRI: innovation in railway platform end and edge technology

Opportunity for businesses to apply for a share of £1.08 million, plus VAT, to develop solutions to detect and deter trespass at railway platform ends and edges.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition. It is open to organisations of all sizes based in the UK, EU or EEA.

Network Rail will invest up to £1.08 million, plus VAT. This will support the development of a technological and/or physical solution which will detect and deter trespass onto the railway from platform ends and edges.

Whilst Network Rail are eager to embrace new forms of innovation, the solution must be scalable to suit a variety of station environments. This will be tested through trials at multiple live station environments.

The competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £200,000 and £360,000, plus VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £200,000 and £360,000, plus VAT.

Your project should start by 1 May 2020 and can last up to 16 months.

You must allow 4 months for development and installation of your project, followed by a 12-month trial. You must demonstrate suitability to undertake work proposed in a live railway station environment. At the close of the trial, your project must deliver evidence of achieving rail industry readiness level (RIRL) 6.

We expect to fund at least 3 projects.

Lead organisation

Your organisation must:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • carry out the demonstration in the UK
  • be based in the UK, EU, or the EEA

Your organisation can work alone or, if you do not have all the required expertise, you can work with others as subcontractors.

We understand it may be a challenge to access railway assets and get permission to make modifications. You will need to develop your own relationships with railway asset owners, but to get help finding sub-contractors you could:

contact railway organisations such as the Rail Industry Association


We have allocated up to £1.08 million, plus VAT, to fund projects in this competition. Each project can apply for up to £360,000, plus VAT.

Successful projects will be 100% funded. The funding is provided by Network Rail and the competition process is managed by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

Applications must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively for research and development (R&D) services. R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Portfolio approach

For this competition, Innovate UK and Network Rail will use a portfolio approach to maximise the benefit of the investment of public funding. The portfolio will be based on project costs, including demonstrating value for money.

Your proposal

Network Rail’s security challenges include trespass at platform ends and edges (such as fare evasion or shortcuts) and incursion over platform ends and edges to commit crime (such as cable theft or vandalism). Network Rail is seeking to demonstrate the capability of physical and/or technological solutions to combat these challenges.

Your solution must be scalable to suit different station environments, including those with:

  • no station staff (referred to as basic)
  • some station staff or other ability to respond (medium)
  • live station response available (advanced)

When a trespass is detected, your solution must have the ability to deter physically, visually or audibly. In addition, it must be able to send an alert to a designated person or system to enable a response.

Your project must trial a solution in 2 live station environments for 12 months to account for seasonal fluctuations in trespass. Your application must describe the expected costs for:

  • development
  • installation at 2 stations
  • monitoring over a 12-month period

The goal is to install trespass reduction solutions that work for the end user. The objective is to enhance safety and reduce the number of minutes of delay resulting from trespass. Network Rail aims to create a detailed report on the projects’ findings.

Your solution must:

  • demonstrate RIRL 3 at the time of application
  • be able to demonstrate RIRL 4 after 3 months of R&D
  • provide evidence required for trial product acceptance by Network Rail
  • develop an installation scheme plan for approval by Network Rail
  • demonstrate RIRL 6 and provide information for product acceptance at the end of the trial

Your proposal must show:

  • whether you have experience of implementing similar systems
  • that you can develop your technology to the scope requirements
  • the maturity of your technology
  • how you will work with local engineering teams and Network Rail Telecom before the live trial for safety assurance
  • how you will work with station staff to develop user processes (for medium and advanced implementations)
  • that you will build in reviews during the trial to ensure quality at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months (end of trial)


You must:

  • create a solution that is adaptable to different station environments (such as different sized or shaped platforms or varying light levels)
  • create a solution that allows for varying levels of staff involvement
  • show how scalability will affect performance

Operational capabilities and technical requirements

Your proposal must demonstrate that your solution:

  • can be installed along a platform end and/or edge (meeting applicable Network Rail standards) to detect trespass in those areas
  • does not interfere with lineside equipment
  • does not interfere with passing or stopping trains (for example, all equipment must be certified for electromagnetic compatibility where applicable)
  • does not mistake trains for trespassers
  • is not triggered when passengers are getting on or off a stopped train
  • can be programmed to limit false alarms and can differentiate between animals and people
  • can be turned off when workers are in the area
  • does not interfere with medical devices, violate human rights, or discriminate against any group of people, and is compliant with the Equality Act 2010
  • resets itself when the trespass is no longer detected
  • meets Network Rail specifications for use on the railway


Your solution must:

  • record the number of triggered trespass incidents
  • record the time and location of trespass incidents

User requirements

Your solution must:

  • be in use all day, every day
  • be able to send alerts to a designated responder when a trespass is detected, either by text, email or another agreed method
  • be able to include alerts that identify the location of the trespass detected
  • include the ability to easily control or turn off alerts, such as when no staff are present to respond
  • record data to allow for future planning and monitoring


Your solution must comply with Network Rail security, technical and data standards. Additional information on Network Rail standards and specifications will be available on our secure site when you apply.

Desirable (non-essential) capabilities

We would prefer solutions that can:

  • detect trespass off the edge of the platform
  • link to existing CCTV to start recording when a trespass is detected
  • combine with other technologies to lower false alarm rate
  • record specific location and time of trespass
  • be battery powered, with consideration of battery life, easy maintenance and the ability to remotely report battery status (if applicable)
  • activate escalating deterrence when a trespasser continues into an unauthorised area, such as a recording of, ‘You are approaching the end of the platform,’ followed by: ‘Your trespass is being recorded; please return to the end of the platform’
  • allow any pre-recorded deterrence messages to be over-ridden by a member of staff and replaced with live speech
  • system self-check
  • automatically report fault codes
  • provide real time reports
  • provide reports on alerts locally to station staff
  • provide information on the outcome of alerts
  • record the time it takes staff to respond or close an alarm

Required outputs from development stage

If you are successful in this competition, you will have 3 months to research and develop your solution before installing it at stations. We will know which stations will be available for trials by the time we announce which projects have been successful.

You will have one month to demonstrate your solution can operate without interfering with the operational railway. You must be able to demonstrate RIRL 4 and provide evidence for trial product acceptance. You will develop an installation scheme plan for approval by Network Rail and work with end users to develop training materials for station staff.

Required outputs from trial stage

Your installation and trial must demonstrate that the system can:

  • detect trespass, initiate an automatic deterrent and alert station staff (if applicable)
  • deliver correct alerts with minimal rates of false positives and missed events
  • integrate with existing Network Rail procedures and operations

After 9 months of trialling, you must be in a position to:

  • evidence that capability exists to produce the system in a representative production environment
  • show that performance in a representative station environment is repeatable and verifiable
  • show that qualified production standard system elements are available for system integration, test, verification and validation
  • provide information to the project team required for safety assessments and product approval

At the end of the trial, if asked by Network Rail, you must make the prototype, product or service available at the demonstration site. This will be for continued evaluation purposes only and should be at zero cost and for as long as required and should include the rights to use, test and maintain the prototype.

After this, you will take responsibility for ongoing licence agreements for system use and data analysis outside the initial trial, and subsequent open procurement activities may follow.

You must produce a final research report with evidence to support your findings, showing how the technology performed in the railway environment. It must include:

  • an installation and maintenance guide
  • staff or user training materials
  • information on successes and failures
  • evidence of deployment readiness
  • safety and integration details
  • evidence that the system is scalable
  • performance specifications of the system

Network Rail will give all applicants:

  • a list of stations representative of those to be used for the trial
  • Rail Industry Readiness Levels guidance
  • access to specific Network Rail standards (on request)

This supporting information will be available on the secure file upload site when the competition opens.

Network Rail will give successful applicants:

  • access to trial stations
  • access to applicable Network Rail standards
  • product acceptance guidance
  • contact with Network Rail installation and maintenance teams
  • contact with Network Rail Telecom resource

Rights and responsibilities

Innovate UK will be responsible for funding your activity and monitoring your project. Network Rail will be available to provide guidance and support. You must invite Network Rail to project meetings.

A data sharing agreement is in place between Innovate UK and Network Rail. Details of your application and progress reports will be shared between the 2 organisations.

If your project is funded you must sign a non-disclosure agreement with Network Rail as part of working on this programme.

Specific themes

We discourage you from focusing on:

  • surveillance analytics
  • facial recognition
  • alerts driven by social media mood and/or geo-location
  • mobile phone analysis

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • are not likely to be successfully exploited by the rail industry to deliver benefits to rail or light-rail organisations and their customers
  • are not within a year of being ready for market
  • do not create a significant change in the level of innovation available in the rail industry
  • are not high maturity
  • have high technical risk
  • cannot effectively deliver a demonstration within a railway environment
  • do not deliver an immersive innovative demonstrator in a railway context
  • do not feature a demonstration phase, offering the customer a chance to use the innovation and give feedback

2 December 2019
Competition opens
5 December 2019
London briefing event
22 January 2020 12:00pm
Registration closes
29 January 2020 12:00pm
Competition closes
9 March 2020
Interviews week commencing
20 March 2020
Applicants notified
17 April 2020
Contracts awarded

Before you start

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • get your unique application number and form by entering the username and password we email to you
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending the briefing event listed in ‘Dates’
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server using Microsoft Word

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential. Innovate UK may share details of your application with Network Rail, in keeping with our privacy notice. Network Rail will also see your project’s progress reports and will expect to be invited to the quarterly progress meetings.

A selected panel of experts will assess the quality of your application.

Applicants who are successful in their applications will be invited to interviews in March 2020. More details are provided in the guidance for applicants.

Background and further information

About SBRI competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. SBRI supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development (R&D). SBRI generates new business opportunities for companies and provides a route to market for their ideas. It also bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies.

SBRI is pre-commercial procurement (PCP) and challenges industry to develop innovative solutions for public sector needs and enables companies to create competitive advantage on the market. PCP enables public procurers to compare alternative potential offerings and filter out the best possible solutions that the market can deliver to address the public need. Where a solution to a challenge demonstrates significant promise, procurement of this innovation may follow, through an entirely separate open procurement process. For more information on SBRI see here

For more information on the railway industry’s priorities, please refer to:

Network Rail data availability

Network Rail will provide a report on the trespass challenges at stations. We will provide rail industry readiness level guidance and a list of stations with similar qualities to those that will be used for the trial demonstrations. This information will be available on the secure file upload site when you apply. Network Rail can also provide access to specific standards upon request, such as the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) assurance process or guidance on product design for reliability. The standards that apply are largely dependent on the nature of your solution.

Successful applicants will be given appropriate contacts for their trial sites, including station staff and project engineers. These contacts will only provide support. Do not ask them to carry out any work on the project.

The Network Rail project team will meet with the selected applicants quarterly to review progress and will be available to respond to queries throughout the project. This will be managed by Innovate UK.

Extra help

You can find more information about how to enter this competition in the invitation to tender document, which is available for download on our secure site after registration.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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