Picture: Network Rail

Network rail has announced a new partnership with Connected Places Catapult, that will see Bristol Temple Meads host trials of innovative passenger technologies. 

Catapult is directing millions of pounds of Innovative UK funding into the programme, which will see Bristol’s station named as the UK’s first Station Innovation Zone. The programme will run for five years and will lead the way for other stations to model their approach based on this. 

The programme will see startups being selected that are aiming to test new ways to improve various aspects of the passenger experience. This includes making journeys smoother with smart ticketing, making stations more accessible with wayfinding apps; from using AI to improve people flow, to designing better facilities using human-centered design principles. 

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Connected Places Catapult on this new programme which will provide SMEs with crucial funding opportunities and Network Rail with new, innovative ideas on how to further enhance the experience of our passengers,” said Francis McGarry, Network Rail Wales & Western region Investment Director. “We are committed to developing Bristol Temple Meads into a world class transport hub for the benefit of our passengers, the city of Bristol and wider West of England region, so it is fitting Bristol Temple Meads has been chosen as the UK’s first Station Innovation Zone.”

Nicola Yates OBE, CEO of Connected Places Catapult, said: “Partnering with Network Rail to create a multi-year Station Innovation Zone in Bristol’s vibrant Temple Quarter will enable us to support numerous small companies in navigating these challenges and benefit passengers’ experience of the station.” 

Applications have already opened for startups to come forward to be trialed in the Station Innovation Zone. Trials are likely to begin in early 2023.