A YORK business is hoping to make the finals in the Business Innovation of the Year category in light of the software it has developed to speed up emergency responses to rail incidents.

Incremental Solutions, which is also vying for the Small Business of the Year title, won InnovateUK funding for its Real-Time Accurate Position and Protection of Rail Transport (RAPPORT) project.

In 2015-16, 759 train accidents including three accidental fatalities at level crossings contributed to more than 12 million delay minutes across the UK rail network.

Collisions at level crossings were the largest single train accident risk on the network and fatalities (suicide and non-suicide) presented the biggest cause of significant delay across UK rail.

The rail industry is striving for zero level-crossing accidents, in addition to reducing disruption and delays through better recovery procedures following incidents on the line.

Existing signalling systems are track-based and only inform staff when trains pass fixed locations on the line. Decision making for signallers and incident response staff around the exact position of a train is a complex and stressful task and increases the risk of mental fatigue and errors.

Lewis Gill, founder of Incremental Solutions, which employs a team of nine at York Science Park, said: “Through conversations and experiences with our rail clients, we realised that using our live tracking GPS positional technology much can be done to improve this situation.

“As a result, Incremental initiated and led the RAPPORT project and it became a primary goal to be to more responsive to rail incidents, which ultimately could provide a direct benefit to the critical care given at the scene of an accident.”

RAPPORT has been developed in collaboration with representatives from Network Rail’s Operations teams including a Shift Signalling Manager, Incident Controller, Local Operations Managers and Route Control Manager. Input from the staff during the development phase of the software has been instrumental in shaping the trial version currently live in York Regional Operating Centre.

Mr Gill added: “By working directly with Network Rail, Northern Rail and data suppliers, this project integrated multiple organisations and systems across the rail industry to deliver efficient, affordable, flexible and attractive transportation in only seven months from project start to implementation. The outcomes of the project have helped to develop new and strong relationships for Incremental with rail organisations, especially the incident response teams, the British Transport Police and ambulance service.

“Developing the RAPPORT project has led to the discussions around an extended trial of the RAPPORT system covering the East Coast mainline, which if successful should pave the way for national adoption.”