Working in collaboration with FAR Composites, Composite Braiding Limited (CBL) and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), TDI has won a second Global Light Rail Award, this time for ‘Technical Innovation of the Year for Rolling Stock’. Working under the project acronym ‘Brainstorm’ (BRAIded Novel beam STructures with Opportunities in Railcar Manufacture), the team designed, developed and manufactured a prototype space frame weaved from carbon fibre composites. This is seen as a potential light-weight and affordable structural solution for application in Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicles of the future.

On announcing ‘Project Brainstorm’ as the winners in the Technical Innovation category, the evening’s host BBC’s Nicholas Owen said:

“Reducing the weight of a rail vehicle means lighter weight infrastructure, less wear and tear on the rails and less power required to move the vehicles themselves. Taking on the challenge, a consortium of British specialists has come up with a new method for producing modular, composite structures for lightweight construction.

Although composite materials have historically been regarded as an expensive solution, and only suitable for short- to medium production runs, this cross-sector team has pioneered new ways to both reduce costs and speed up the process.

Small sections or components can be made easily, but this team has gone big and created a prototype vehicle spaceframe that complies with all structural and regulatory requirements – and is so light that it can be lifted by hand! The replacement of damaged sections is promised to be quick and relatively easy, and the materials are also recycleable.

The judges loved this winning submission for its innovation, vision and ambition to create not only new manufacturing processes, but potentially a whole new industry. This is what the industry has been waiting for decades. Aviation and automotive do this already, so it’s great to see a UK consortium bringing us up to that level. We can’t wait to see the first full vehicle next year.”