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Bristol Temple Meads set to become testbed for passenger tech

1 November 2022
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A multi-million pound programme is set to turn Bristol Temple Meads into the UK’s first ‘Station Innovation Zone’, trialling new technologies designed to upgrade passengers’ experience.

Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership, and Network Rail revealed that Bristol’s iconic train station is to host trials of innovative passenger technologies.

The programme is selecting start-ups aiming to test new ways to improve various aspects of the passenger experience: from making journeys smoother with smarter ticketing, to making stations more accessible with wayfinding apps; from using AI to improve people flow, to designing better facilities using human-centred design principles.

The Catapult is directing millions of pounds of Innovate UK funding into the programme, which sees Bristol Temple Meads named as the UK’s first Station Innovation Zone. The five-year programme will pioneer the approach and plans are in place to roll out the model to other stations as it succeeds.

Francis McGarry, Network Rail Wales & Western region Investment Director, said: “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.”

“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.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK, added: “Innovate UK is strongly committed to partnerships to deliver future transport systems that are connected, accessible, sustainable, and safe. So, we see this partnership between our Connected Places Catapult and Network Rail as an important step to support delivery of passenger technology for the future.”
Nicola Yates OBE, CEO, Connected Places Catapult, said: “Innovation is tough in any industry and rail is especially hard because of the number of assessments and permissions required. The net effect is that it takes too much time and costs too much for most small businesses to engage. 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.”
Nicola Yates OBE, CEO, Connected Places Catapult

This announcement of the Station Innovation Zone follows the Government’s levelling-up announcement of £95m for the Bristol Temple Quarter regeneration programme and the Catapult funding will complement the ongoing revitalisation of the station. Around £60m of the funding from Government will enable improvements in and around Bristol Temple Meads Station, including three new entrances to the station, as well as infrastructure works and new public spaces nearby.

The University of Bristol is developing its presence in Temple Quarter near the station, recently opening the Temple Quarter Research Hub, housing the Bristol Digital Futures Institute with a large scale data-center and a sector agnostic digital twin.

Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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