Train operations-Innovation guide for the rail industry case study

Innovation guide for railway industry

Rail Safety and Standards Board

Business Need
Enable the rail industry to benefit from the full innovation potential of SMEs.



The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has identified innovation as a strategic priority for Great Britain's rail network, to drive the future development and commercial exploitation of leading edge products and services. Whilst it is understood that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have an excellent capacity for innovation, they face significant challenges that impact on their likelihood of achieving commercial exploitation. The RSSB responded to this Innovation Challenge by directing Frazer-Nash to produce Innovation Guidance in order to identify the barriers to innovation and outline strategies to overcome these barriers.


Frazer-Nash began the project by running a workshop with a range of SMEs to explore their experiences of innovating in the rail sector and to uncover the most significant barriers to innovation. We used this knowledge, coupled with our own practical experience of technology development and understanding of effective Technology Management, to first establish the structure for the Innovation Guidance and then to explain a systematic approach for turning a promising idea into a commercial product or service.

Our advice was provided as both written guidance and a self-assessment tool for SMEs. The guidance addresses the critical areas that SMEs should consider at each stage of the innovation process. These areas cover understanding industry structure, customer needs and engagement, regulatory standards and approvals processes, the technical risks that are inherent in technology development and the organisational capability of a firm to undertake effective development.

The self-assessment tool is designed to enable companies to determine the strengths and limitations of their approach to innovation at each stage of the innovation process. The tool is linked to strategies to help SMEs improve their approach in response to the Innovation Challenge and to provide links to other sources of further information.