Intermodality’s Managing Director Nick Gallop today collected first prize for the EIT’s Rail Freight Customer Challenge on behalf of Eddie Stobart for their winning “Stobart Express” initiative.

The Enabling Innovation Team (EIT) was established by the the railway industry and Government to accelerate innovation in the GB railway, to focus on moving business solutions and technologies from prototype through to demonstration and implementation.

The 2013 Rail Customer Experience Competition was aimed at bringing innovation to customer experience in the rail industry, to significantly improve the rail experience for passengers and freight customers. EIT aimed to provide a glimpse into the future – showcasing innovative solutions that could transform the rail customer’s experience. By bringing together rail and non-rail sectors, the event sought to facilitate knowledge exchange and draw new talent into the GB rail industry.

After a two-month submission period, 16 finalists were chosen to go on to pitch their innovations at the Final Live Event in London on September 17th, 2013. Finalists competed for a total purse of £300,000 in cash prizes, plus the opportunity to bid for funding from a total investment pool of £700,000.

The Stobart Express project aims to build on work already in hand to return express freight services to the rail network as a mainstream offer in combination with “last mile” delivery services in urban areas, to providing an intermodal high-speed, low-carbon logistics service able to address modern next-day / same-day national deliveries for e-commerce and home shopping. At the heart of the innovation proposal is the creation of mini “swap pods”, providing a self-contained intermodal load unit for smaller deliveries, capable of being carried within larger existing swap bodies (Stobart has a fleet of several hundred) as well as on smaller local delivery vehicles.

Having made the final shortlist of 4 projects in the Rail Freight Customer Challenge, the judges awarded Eddie Stobart first prize, providing critical start-up funding to develop the “swap pod” system to prototype stage and with scope to pitch for further funding if required.

Intermodality’s Nick Gallop managed the submission of the competition bid in a very short timescale and attended the competition event to pitch to the audience and separately to the judging panel in a private “Dragon’s Den” session during the day. After collecting the award, Nick noted:

“The award of funding is gratefully received, as an invaluable next step for the logistics industry to bettert exploit rail’s unique qualities of high-speed and direct access into towns and cities. Combined with local deliveries in smaller low-emission road vehicles, Stobart Express can meet the challenge of sustainable urban logistics for the e-commerce era. On behalf of Eddie Stobart I would like to thank the judges for selecting the project as one of the prize-winning entries.”