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.

M.A.D.E in Britain

RIA's Technical and Innovation work has recently focused on the theme of 'M.A.D.E in Britain', where M.A.D.E stands for Materials, Automation, Data and Energy - the key areas where UK rail could develop a competitive advantage through innovation.

Watch RIA's M.A.D.E in Britain video to see some of the exciting examples of advancements taking place across the country by RIA members:

Innovation Community

RIA is recognised for its industry leadership on innovation and actively promotes innovation among member companies. We provide two main forums for open discussion and sharing – Unlocking Innovation and RIC.

Unlocking innovation is a series of one-day events featuring the important topics, such as Materials, Automation, Data and Energy with new programmes planned in leading areas. We partner with inspiring venues to deliver events which move the dial. We also feature popular Elevator Pitch sessions where Tier1s and SMEs can present their innovative ideas on an equal platform. 

RIC – the RIA Innovation Conference – is an annual two-day event which brings together everyone working in innovation throughout the Rail industry. It includes a conference, workshops, an exhibition and is the leading forum for discussion in the industry.

RIA Innovation Community hosts both of those forums and is accessible to everyone – members and non-members. Here you can find the updates and download presentations from past events. 

To access the Innovation Community, click here. You will be asked to login to your account, if you do not have an account, please create one, it is simple and easy to do! If you have forgotten your password, just use the “Forgot Password?” link to restore it.

Network Rail R&D

There are a number of opportunities available for companies looking to get new ideas and innovation into the rail sector.

Find out more here


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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More at RIA

Rail Innovation Family

A collaboration for companies looking to innovate in rail between the major rail supply organisations in the UK.

Read More

Unlocking Innovation

Our Unlocking Innovation events help promote new thinking in the industry, and are open to all.

Join our Innovation Community (log in required) 


The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) is a £92 million partnership between industry and academia to promote innovation in rail.

Find out how to get involved 

Talk to us

Railway Industry Association

22 Headfort Place
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7201 0777

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