Reimagining our railways and stations

Our railways and stations are changing, but how is innovation shaping their future? Hear how the rail industry is collaborating like never before – with special guest, Michael Portillo.

Britain has the oldest rail infrastructure in the world. Our railways have profoundly shaped our history, as well as much of our cultural and civic identity. But like much of our economy, the UK’s rail network has had a difficult few years; reduced passenger revenue in the wake of the COVID pandemic; changing commuting patterns; waves of industrial action; and throughout it all the need to modernise some very old infrastructure.   

And then of course, there are the daunting challenges that the 21st Century are throwing at it. The need to decarbonise our economy, the march of digital technology on the modernisation journey, and the importance of putting people and the passenger experience at the heart of all of that.   

Historically the rail industry has a long track record of changing and adapting to society’s needs. At its heart, rail is an industry that was forged in innovation and creativity. Yet despite its pioneering history, the modern rail industry can still be a difficult space to innovate in. In this episode we’ll hear how innovation is helping the sector to rediscover its creativity in becoming a more cost-effective, accessible, sustainable and enjoyable form of travel.  

We begin our journey with one of Britain’s most well-known champions for railways, former MP and Government Minister, Michael Portillo. Along the way we also meet some of the innovators are helping to write a new story for rail, like Nicolas LeGlatin from OpenSpace, a company specialising in digital twins in stations; Steve Erdal from WordNerds, a specialist in language analytics and customer experience; Matteo Maccario whose company Pluvo is revolutionising air quality in stations.   

We also hear from Mike Bradley, an expert in inclusive design at the University of Cambridge, Kirstin Durie, Property Development Manager at Network Rail, Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain from the Knowledge Transfer Network, and Alan Peters, our very own Ecosystem Director for Rail & Stations.  

Music on this episode is by Phill Ward Music ( 

Show Notes

To learn more about the UK’s first ‘Station Innovation Zone’ and how the Catapult is supporting Bristol Temple Meads station to trial new technologies, click here 

And if you’re interested in applying for our Station Innovation Zone Competition – we’re looking for up to 10 innovators with technology, products or services which can improve passenger experience when travelling through stations – then click here to learn more 

If you’d like to get in touch with your feedback, comments and suggestions on what you’d like to hear more of on Connected Places, please email: We’re looking forward to hearing from you!  

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