Innovation in rail helps deliver better journeys, reduce costs and improves passenger experience

The RIA Technical & Innovation function works to ensure the industry's voice is heard on a number on technical and safety issues, and that RIA members are able to navigate the sector to ensure innovations get into the market.

We assist with the development of technical strategies, standards development, promoting innovation and sustainability and helping RIA members with product acceptance and staying up to date with the latest research and legislation. We do this in both a UK and international level, particularly promoting the interests of the UK railway supply industry in the European arena.

Unlocking Innovation

RIA works to ensure the industry has the processes by which to innovate. There are two initiatives by which we do so: 

RIA’s Innovation Conference in the Spring – a two-day event with interactive, plenary and networking sessions, plus an exhibition; this always attracts high quality participants, from within the rail industry, academia and beyond. 

And our popular Unlocking Innovation Scheme (UIS) Workshops are held in different locations around the UK every six months or so; they are free to attend and open to non-members.


Challenge Programme

RIA is working on a number of challenges which share the common characteristic that, if properly addressed, have the potential to improve the efficiency and whole life cost of delivering railway projects. 

It is RIA’s view that electrification is the optimum solution for an intensively used railway provided the cost of electrification is acceptable.

However, some recent electrification projects have led to the Government losing confidence in the ability of industry to deliver electrification at an affordable cost.

The Electrification Cost Challenge therefore sets out to learn lessons from these recent projects and establish what electrification should cost.



Over 2018, RIA Members worked with Network Rail to design a process by which standards could be challenged and developed, to allow for greater innovation and cost efficiencies. This process is now up and running, with 27 standards challenged already.

RIA is currently working with Transport for London to develop a similar system over 2019.



Set up in response to the hiatus in renewals work at the end of Control Period 5, the Renewals Unit Cost Challenge is examining how the delivery of renewals work can be made more efficient, particularly by looking at visibility of workloads, consistency in funding and track access.


63% of signalling on the UK rail network will be due for renewal in the next 15 years and there will be a significant challenge in delivering this work in a cost efficient way.

As part of the Sector Deal, RIA has been working to show that it is possible to reduce the current unit cost of signalling for both train and lineside if government agree to facilitate a cab fitment programme for all trains, support industry to smooth the profile of infrastructure renewals and support Digital Railway clients to create a collaborative and sustainable commercial environment.


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Railway Industry Association

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United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7201 0777

RIA is a company limited by guarantee registered in England & Wales Reg. No. 10036044