The train operator Northern has walked away with a top award for its work to develop a fleet of ‘Intelligent Trains’.

Colleagues from Northern picked up the award for ‘in service infrastructure monitoring’ in the Engineering and Safety category in front of industry peers at this year’s Railway Innovation Awards.

The project, which was first announced in 2022, drew fresh attention earlier this month when Northern announced it was hoping to equip as many as 40 trains in its fleet with the kit required to make them into ‘Data Hoovers’ – transforming how the rail network is maintained.

Collecting the award, Marc Silverwood, Northern’s on train system manager, said: “We’re thrilled to be recognised for our work on the Intelligent Trains programme.

“Northern has always sought ways to do things smarter, safer and more efficient.

“We only need 40 of our fleet of 335 trains to be fitted with this technology to regularly sweep our entire network - enabling maintenance issues to be identified and repairs scheduled whilst they are within operational safety standards.”

Northern is in talks with Network Rail to secure funding for the Intelligent Trains programme, which it estimates would save tens of thousands of ‘delay minutes’ caused by urgent, unscheduled maintenance each year.

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Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, providing 2,500 local and regional services every day to more than 500 stations across the North of England. In total, more than 100 million passenger journeys are made on its network each year.

The company employs more than 7,000 people and is owned by Northern Trains Ltd, a subsidiary of the Department for Transport’s public sector owning group, DOHL, which also has responsibility for LNER and SE Trains.

Northern has recently introduced 100 new trains as part of a £500 million investment in regional rail including the renovation of station facilities, better lighting, upgraded car parks and enhanced CCTV coverage.