RailTech presents the winners of the Innovation Awards 2021

At the second day of RailTech Europe 2021, the winners of the 15 nominated companies for the innovation awards were announced: Infrabel, 3M Poland, Network Rail, DB Vertrieb, Civil Water Management Limited and TrioLight. After short pitches of the nominees, the jury decided on the awards in the 5 categories Infrastructure​​​​​​, Rolling Stock, Digitalisation, Public Transport and Start-Up. The participants of RailTech also voted for the Audience Choice Award.

“It was a hard job to choose the winners, with so many nominees”, says Erwin Abbink, Head of Innovation & Analytics at NS (Dutch Railways), one of the jury members. However, after a meeting of the jury, they decided on 5 of the winners of the Innovation Awards.

Rob Goverde, Professor of Railway Traffic Management & Operations, was also present in the studio: “One of the nominees did push us over the edge with a very exciting pitch”. Next to the jury, the audience also had a choice in which company they think deserves an award for their innovation.

Presenting the Innovation Awards Rogier Elshout, and jury members Rob Goverde and Erwin Abbink
Presenter of the Innovation Awards Rogier Elshout, and jury members Rob Goverde and Erwin Abbink

The winners and their innovation in each category are as followed:


Infrabel: Renewing 4 switches and 1 km of track in 48h! A world premiere: Renewing nearly 1 kilometre of track, and at the same time replacing 4 switches, usually generates several weeks of significant rail traffic disruptions. In order to limit the impact on customers, Infrabel engineers conceived an innovative technique! A “rail network block” was pre-built on a concrete slab, right next to the tracks in use. Then, in the course of only one week-end, this mega “Tetris” piece, weighing the equivalent of 18 Jumbo Jets, was pushed into its final location. This allowed a much faster return to normal traffic but also much safer conditions during works. They took place in a European global project “Increasing performance on 4 freight sections on all Core network Corridors in Belgium

Rolling Stock

3M Poland with Retroreflective marking of carriages: Night time safety at unguarded railroad crossing is an issue for cargo trains, as the rail stock is not equipped with any lights that may improve side visibility of wagons at darkness (unlike passenger trains), mostly painted in dark colors. 3M provided a technical solution known from USA addressing PKP Cargo Service need to make their trains safer, by providing durable, self adhesive, retroreflective films that can be easily applied. The marking in form of wide vertical striping, combined with train movement, warns drivers from far distance about danger.


Network Rail with HMT1 WorkfloPlus: Working smarter, not harder and ensuring we get it right first time is the remit of the HMT1 WorkfloPlus project, enabling front-line efficiencies of up to 70% and significant track safety improvements. This project brings existing innovative solutions together to standardise and digitise data collection and reporting for safety critical renewals from paper-based processes into one, easy to use and adaptable ‘connected worker’ solution. Workers can go completely hands free via voice-control headsets and collect data supported by images, video, emergency calling and GPS integration for reliable referencing, enabling a consistent approach to renewals. A collaboration between the Central Rail Systems Alliance and Network Rail’s Research and Development Portfolio, the solution is advancing data maturity and back-office reporting efficiency for Network Rail.

Public Transport

DB Vertrieb with the first of its kind Check-in/Be-out solution “Tickin”: Tickin is the first in/out solution offering a seamless travel experience with smartphone based be-out. A simple swipe entitles for a journey. Tickin automatically detects changes between means of transport and arrival at the destination, calculates the cheapest price including daily and monthly tickets with comfortable monthly payment. Passengers using Tickin don’t have to buy tickets in advance, don’t get lost in complex fare systems and aren’t determined to a certain connection or even the destination. They don’t have to spent thoughts on payment or worry about whether their ticket is valid, suitable and the cheapest option.


Civil Water Management Limited, with the TDS-400 Civil Water Management Track Drainage System. TDS-400 is an advanced track drainage system comprised of modular drainage panels made from recycled plastic. Proven to increase workforce safety in live track environments by significantly reducing the number of workforce shifts needed to remediate rail assets. In a typical example for rail, a 1.3 km track drainage remediation project can be completed in 14 shifts as opposed to 66 shifts. Plastic is diverted away from landfill/incineration at a rate of 10 tonne, per 1,000 drainage panels. Recognised in the autumn of 2020, with Certification of Network Rail Product Acceptance.

Audience Choice

TrioLight, with RailLight: Railway lighting without light pollution with maximum safety. Traditional lighting on railways and railway sidings are history! A new lighting era has started for the railways with RailLight.
RailLight is a unique product that has been approved and installed by a number of railway companies across Europe. RailLight is a patented luminaire with an aluminium housing that is attached to the outside of the rails. Due to the unique light distribution, walkways and inspection paths are optimally illuminated without light pollution but with maximum safety for any railway siding, anywhere.

You can read more about all the 15 nominated companies in this article.

Delegates from the nominated companies were all present with a live connection to the RailTech studio

Jury members

The jury for the awards consists of professionals as well as academics with expert knowledge of the railway sector. The jury has evaluated the entries and made the nominations, and will eventually choose the winner in each category. This years’ jury members are Matthias Landgraf, Senior Scientist at Graz University of Technology, Rob Goverde, Professor of Railway Traffic Management & Operations and Director of the Digital Rail Traffic Lab at Delft University of Technology, Erwin Abbink, Head of Innovation & Analytics at NS (Dutch Railways), Karel van Gils, Director Innovation & Technological Renewal at ProRail, Enno Wiebe, Technical Director at CER, and Claudia Falkinger, Innovation Strategist at Women in Mobility.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor RailTech.com

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