New ‘Data Sandbox’ research competition to be launched soon

RSSB, via the Rail Research UK Association (RRUKA), is to invest up to £500,000 in academic-led feasibility studies to identify data driven solutions to key network performance challenges in the rail industry in order to increase reliability, capacity and maintainability of the railway system.

Please visit the Data Sandbox webinar hub for more info and to join the discussion.


There is constant pressure on the railway industry to improve reliability and availability of the system, due to an increasing demand on services. With the Public Performance Measure (PPM) declining especially in the most congested areas, the industry needs to make best use of network capacity.

Getting more value from its data, is one way the industry could improve its service.  However, the multiple data sources and the volume of data collected is too unwieldy to yield any added benefit.  Rationalising the information sources and systems currently in use has the potential to make processes more efficient and allow the industry to take more well-informed decisions.

A key opportunity lies in the ability to integrate data from various sources (Network Rail, train operators, train maintainers, signalling etc.) in a ‘data sandbox’ or an ‘industry data warehouse’.  This would allow reporting processes to be streamlined so that data analysis could provide more robust information, offer operational savings for Network Rail and the operators, and ultimately improve the experience of rail customers.

Proposals funded through this call will develop novel ideas and innovative solutions that can help the rail industry extract useful information from its network data and use it to improve service reliability and increase capacity.

Feasibility studies proposals due 22 December 2017
Winning bids will be announced Jan/Feb 2018
Feasibility studies due to start March 2018
Project outcomes presentations at the RRUKA Annual Conference November 2019

Calling on data experts

The research competition is open to all interested academics from all relevant departments.  Cross departmental collaboration is highly recommended.

We would particularly like to hear from experts in:

  • applied data science
  • statistics and analytics
  • maths
  • software engineering
  • computer science
  • big data
  • systems design and development
  • and anyone else who is interested in this challenge.

You do not need to be a rail expert to apply for funding.  We will provide all the necessary background and put you in touch with relevant railway experts.


An information and networking day will be held on 31 October 2017 at CodeNode Skills Matter in London; for those wishing to join remotely, the event will be streamed live via webinar.



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