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Rail freight faces urgent capacity issues, say experts

The centre, based in Central Milton Keynes, is to collaborate with business re-engineering specialist Tech Mahindra on solutions to improve the UK’s logistics and freight network across all forms of transport.

The initial focus will be on the rail freight market, which is facing urgent challenges.

Network Rail, which manages the UK’s rail infrastructure from its headquarters next to Milton Keynes Centralstation, predicts a 30% increase in freight transported by rail by 2019.

Existing lines are already running at or near capacity.

The exclusive Memorandum of Understanding brings the two organisations together for three years to develop Intelligent Mobility solutions that address the growing capacity, operational efficiency and inter-operability challenges faced by the UK supply chain and freight and logistics industries.

The aim is to create efficient transport systems that combine road, rail, air and sea, said Transport Systems Catapult chief operating officer Mark Ruddy.

He added: “This is the essence of Intelligent Mobility but there is a lot to do to build and maintain the momentum required for change.

"Transport in the UK is evolving rapidly: for example, there is a real need for improvement in the delivery and performance of freight and logistics services in the UK and that includes how we integrate with rail freight.

“By collaborating with Tech Mahindra, we aim to develop fresh thinking for this sector and deliver the evidence, technical and business case demonstrations that will lead the way in improving the seamless transfer of freight between transport modes contributing to a more efficient and connected industry.”

TSC and Tech Mahindra, also based in Central Milton Keynes, plan to form a consortium with SME and research organisations to develop proof of concepts that will initially aid the UK but which can then be exported worldwide.

Tech Mahindra chief executive CP Gurnani said: “I believe that the results of this collaboration will lead to innovative solutions and business models that can be rolled out across the globe and lead to greater efficiencies in the supply chain and freight industries.”

Analysts predict that the Intelligent Mobility market will reach a value of £900 billion per year worldwide by 2025.

Tech Mahindra vice president Upendra Dharmadhikary said: “By collaborating with Transports Systems Catapult we can achieve our common aim in developing a digital ecosystem to unlock the commercial potential of this evolution.

"We have decades of experience in providing global critical end-to-end solutions for the transport and logistics industry, with particular focus on rail transportation, and are looking forward to imparting this knowledge and developing it to meet the specific needs of the UK market.”