Business Wales: Innovation Case Study
Business Wales helps Welsh business Motion Rail launch a Virtual Reality project to improve rail safety for children and workers
Founded in 2009, Motion Rail Ltd. provides specialist railway communication services nationwide on Network Rail and London Overground infrastructure.
Working in partnership with the EU funded CEMET (Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies), part of the University of South Wales (USW), and following support and advice from Business Wales, Motion Rail were able to produce a virtual reality system that can give users a safe way to learn about the dangers posed by railways.
With 1,150 level crossings in Wales and the border counties, and 20,000 miles of track in the UK, there are many areas that pose serious dangers to railway users, be it pedestrians, motorists or workers. Recent research has also found out that more than 70% of adults believe that using level crossings when the barriers are down is safe if no trains are coming. This led Motion Rail’s Managing Director Emma Gilchrist to come up with an innovative product, which would engage and teach children about the importance of rail safety from an early age.
Scope of project
Initially, Emma developed the pioneering virtual reality technology, which has been endorsed by Network Rail, for training railway workers on how to manage the hazardous environments while working on or near the tracks.
A not-for-profit arm of the business was then established, which aimed at taking the technology into schools to educate children on the dangers they could face around railways.
Business Wales’s innovation specialist Steve Evans has played an integral part in the development of the product. He identified that Motion Rail could take a virtual reality training academy approach to track safety and use its innovative scope to tap into highly competitive markets. He then advised on the idea, the viability of the business and the financials of the project, before introducing Emma to CEMET, who commissioned the pilot project.
Steve explains: “It was clear from the outset of my work with Motion Rail that they had an interesting and extremely useful product that could have a huge impact on the way safety is taught within the rail network. They are a team that believes passionately in the difference they can make. The fact they are now engaged with Network Rail is extremely positive and I’m delighted Business Wales has played a part in that success.”
What the future holds
The virtual reality training programme has now been rolled out into Welsh schools with pupils in Abergavenny being the first ones to test the product. Emma is hoping that in the near future she will be able to turn Motion Rail into a training school for railway engineers in the Convergence area of Wales, specifically encouraging more women to take up the profession.
Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.
To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales for further information.