The rail startups in this report develop technologies to enhance visibility, streamline operations, automate operations, reduce maintenance and repairs, and increase rail efficiency, among others. These solutions offer benefits such as increased transparency, real-time asset management, reduction of transit time, informed decision-making, and reduced overhead costs. Overall, these rail technologies have the potential to revolutionize the railway industry and address some of its most pressing challenges. Let’s explore 20 such innovative rail startups advancing these technologies in 2024 and beyond!
20 Rail Startups to Watch in 2024
- Next Generation Robotics – Autonomous Rail Inspection
- AXO Track – Predictive Rail Track Maintenance
- CO2Rail – Regenerative Braking System
- RAILwAI – Rail Infrastructure Maintenance
- Sensonic – Track Condition Monitoring
- Lenz Labs – Rail Asset Risk Management
- Water-Trak – Rail Track Low Adhesion Prevention
- MoniRail – Non-Intrusive Railway Track Monitoring
- PhySens – Magnetic Rail Infrastructure Monitoring
- RIINO – Zero Emission Monorail
- Telegraph – Freight Rail Workflow Management
- Railspire – Locomotive Operation Orchestration
- servail – Robot-based Rail Maintenance
- DirecTrainSystems (DTS) – Dynamic Rail Coupling
- PlasmaTrack – Sustainable Track Cleaning
- Allegro Energy – Redox Flow Batteries
- Nitrexo – Railway Analytics
- Tekle Holographics – Railway Infrastructure Visualizations
- Sun-Ways – Solar Power Plants on Rail Tracks
- Cambridge Sensoriis – Drone-based Rail Inspection
Global Startup Heat Map highlights 20 Rail Startups to Watch
Through the Big Data & Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering over 3 790 000+ startups & scaleups globally, we identified 576 rail startups. The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the 20 rail startups you should watch in 2024 as well as the geo-distribution of all rail startups & scaleups we analyzed for this research.
Based on the heat map, we see high startup activity in India and Europe, followed by the USA. The 20 hand-picked rail startups work on solutions ranging from rail analytics and smart operations platforms to sustainability and renewables integration.
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As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant technologies and industry trends quickly & exhaustively. Based on the data from the platform, the Top 5 Rail Startup Hubs are located in London, New York City, Bangalore, New Delhi, and Berlin. The 20 hand-picked startups highlighted in this report are chosen from all over the world and develop solutions for rail operations and maintenance, track cleaning and signal management, and electrification, among others.
Explore 20 Novel Rail Startups to Watch (2024)
Next Generation Robotics advances Autonomous Rail Inspection
Italian startup Next Generation Robotics develops ARGO, an advanced robotic system for autonomous rail inspection. It moves under trains using wheels running inside the track. ARGO is equipped with LiDAR, ultrasound sensors, and optic sensors for collision avoidance. It also has horizontal perspective cameras and a robotic arm camera for detailed visual inspections of train components.
The platform operates beneath the carriage of trains and functions in various weather conditions, enhancing inspection capabilities. Moreover, ARGO’s mechanism allows for navigation under any train on standard railway tracks with multiple sensors for contactless inspection and creates digital records of maintenance procedures. Next Generation Robotics’ technology thus enables better predictive maintenance of locomotives through the use of AI algorithms, ensuring safety and operational efficiency.
AXO Track provides Predictive Rail Track Maintenance
AXO Track is a German startup that specializes in retrofitting predictive maintenance technologies for railway infrastructure. The startup’s solution collects real-time data on asset status and conditions with easy installation and immediately displays measurement results. Moreover, the startup’s digital monitoring systems detect and address weak points in railway infrastructure in advance to prevent damage before it occurs. This proactive approach improves rail network availability, extends facility service life, and supports mainline operations.
CO2Rail develops a Regenerative Braking Systems
CO2Rail is a USA-based startup that develops a regenerative braking-based energy system that transforms trains into a tool for carbon capture. This startup’s system converts wasted braking energy into electricity that is stored in a large-capacity battery under the railcar. Besides this, CO2Rail’s locomotive system captures carbon dioxide through a variety of CO2 sorbents from both ambient air and diesel exhaust.
It then converts it into liquid CO2 that is stored in cryogenic tanks for offloading at regular intervals. Moreover, CO2Rail’s Locomotive Exhaust Transfer Array (LETA) airflow system eliminates the need for traditional fans, leveraging the train’s slipstream for air movement. CO2Rail platform adapts to various sorbents and desorption methods and serves as a scalable and upgradable solution to decarbonize rail and energy applications.
RAILwAI simplifies Rail Infrastructure Maintenance
French startup RAILwAI specializes in AI-based predictive maintenance for railway infrastructure through centralized maintenance data, allowing for comprehensive equipment health monitoring and trend analysis. It employs machine learning algorithms and real-time data analysis to predict and prevent equipment failures through a modular solution that offers customization to meet specific maintenance needs.
Besides this, the platform’s data management tools also enable efficient data crossing, archiving, and maintenance management. Moreover, RAILwAI’s approach to fault detection considers various influencing factors like weather and material wear and serves to enhance the reliability and availability of railway infrastructure.
Sensonic advances Track Condition Monitoring
Austrian startup Sensonic develops fiber optic-based vibration sensing for comprehensive railway track condition monitoring. The startup’s technology system collects raw data through fiber optics and uses intelligent algorithms in combination with signal processing and machine learning to analyze data.
Additionally, the sensing unit sends data to the cloud for storage and processing and features redundant power supplies to prevent any downtime or loss of data. Sensonic then uses SonicTwin to create a digital twin of detected vibrations, generate actionable insights, and enhance railway monitoring. This approach allows for continuous improvement and adaptation to new applications in rail monitoring while overcoming traditional operational problems such as electromagnetic interference and harsh weather.
Lenz Labs advances Rail Asset Risk Management
Lenz Labs is a UK-based startup that manages rail asset risks using AI solutions by transforming weak signals from diverse data sources into actionable insights. Its portal integrates historical and live data with machine learning models for effective risk management. while addressing low-adhesion challenges, enhancing safety and operational efficiency.
The startup also develops sensors for advanced rail interface monitoring, like its wheel slide protection system that detects a range of problems at the wheel-rail interface. Furthermore, the Seasonal Delivery Portal proactively manages weather-induced conditions to prevent delays and significantly improves decision-making in rail network operations and maintenance.
Water-Trak enables Rail Track Low Adhesion Prevention
UK-based startup Water-Trak solves low adhesion problems on rail tracks, often caused by leaves or slippery conditions by applying a small amount of water to the rails. Its technology, significantly improves adhesion, ensuring consistent and predictable braking, and reduces stopping distances in low adhesion conditions. In addition to reducing braking distance, Water-Trak’s system prevents autumn-related rail incidents in passenger rail vehicles. Water-Trak’s approach addresses a critical safety issue from leaves on tracks and reduces the need for special railhead treatment trains.
MoniRail creates Non-Intrusive Railway Track Monitoring
MoniRail is a UK-based startup that develops non-intrusive railway condition monitoring, utilizing inertial measurement units (IMUs) that provide continuous and accurate track and vehicle measurements. The system collects data to monitor track geometry, ride comfort, and train performance with a data analytics platform that converts IMU data into actionable information.
Moreover, MoniRail’s on-vehicle monitoring hardware transmits data to the cloud for real-time data processing and insights into the state of railway infrastructure. In this way, the startup solution enables predictive maintenance and gives rail operators and maintenance teams a better understanding of asset degradation.
PhySens advances Magnetic Rail Infrastructure Monitoring
German startup PhySens develops magnetic infrastructure monitoring (MagRIM) to enhance railway safety and efficiency. The technology uses IoT sensors for non-contact, wear-free monitoring of railway infrastructure components like switches and crossings. The MagRIM system generates a magnetic signature from the movement of these components, enabling real-time condition monitoring.
This approach allows for early detection of issues such as icing on switches or crossings. Moreover, the system easily integrates into existing diagnostic systems to enhance their capabilities. PhySens’ solution provides a comprehensive, real-time view of the railway infrastructure’s condition, improving maintenance and reducing delays.
RIINO creates a Zero Emission Monorail
RIINO is a Canadian startup that specializes in a zero-emission monorail system with fully electric and automated operation. RIINO’s monorail system is designed for both underground and surface projects, providing a versatile solution for various applications. The system features low maintenance costs and minimal underground ventilation requirements, enhancing operational efficiency while reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. RIINO’s technology decarbonizes the rail industry through its modular, autonomous, and fully electric monorail with additional applications in the mining industry.
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Telegraph simplifies Freight Rail Workflow Management
US-based startup Telegraph develops a cloud-based operating system that enhances the visibility and logistics in freight rail supply chains. It provides transparency in rail supply chains by displaying all rail activity, exceptions, and real-time asset management. The system also streamlines operations through automatic alerts and by sharing information between partners while providing insights on mission-critical operations. Telegraph’s solution reduces transit time and performs cycle analysis to expose unnecessary costs. This enables supply chain managers to make informed decisions when it comes to fleet sizing or demurrage risk.
Railspire aids Locomotive Operation Orchestration
Railspire is a US-based startup that makes an intelligent orchestration solution to automate locomotive operations. It utilizes an operator-led, task-oriented methodology for both preplanned and ad hoc operations by utilizing algorithms that consistently optimize operational productivity. Moreover, Railspire integrates with modern and legacy locomotives to minimize maintenance and repairs through data analysis. The analytics solution helps extend the service life of the motive power and rolling stock. It also reduces the burden on train conductors by automating train handling functions such as grade, slip, tonnage, length, tractive effort, and braking horsepower.
servail offers Robot-based Rail Maintenance
servail is a German startup that provides robotic maintenance solutions for railway tracks and rolling stock. The startup’s autonomous robots utilize spaces below trains without protruding the loading gauge to inspect and maintain railway tracks. Moreover, the operation of these robots does not inhibit or interfere with track availability.
The modular platform also carries tools and sensors to perform a wide range of track and train measurements such as track geometry, environment recognition, train-track interaction, and more. As it performs rolling stock inspection on regular tracks, the platform reduces the frequency of trains entering workshops, thereby increasing operational uptime.
DirecTrainSystems advances Dynamic Rail Coupling
DirecTrainSystems is an Israeli startup that provides a dynamic rail coupling technology to increase rail capacity and efficiency. The startup’s coupling-in-motion technology enables the physical connection and disconnection of trains on the run and at high speeds, without needing to stop or decelerate. The solution results in significant energy savings. DTS’ technology enables rail providers and manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint while improving the quality of rail services and reaching economic targets.
PlasmaTrack ensures Sustainable Track Cleaning
UK-based startup PlasmaTrack develops a plasma-based cleaning technology that restores tracks to a dry, clean, and uncontaminated state. The device, which is installed on the underside of trains, clears the residue on tracks, for example, hard-to-remove third-layer contamination like leaves that stick to the surface. It enables train drivers to accurately predict braking distances regardless of the weather or season as well as network operators to increase the capacity on the miles of track they own. Besides, PlasmaTrack replaces the current method of using millions of liters of water to clean train tracks.
Allegro Energy manufactures Redox Flow Batteries
Australian startup Allegro Energy makes high-performance and sustainable flow batteries for long-duration energy storage. The startup’s water-based energy storage solution utilizes recyclable materials and features an electrolyte that is non-flammable and non-corrosive. Besides, the battery does not use rare earth materials and adjusts to suit any environment.
It offers high storage duration and energy density, compared to existing battery solutions. Allegro Energy’s technology enables electric locomotives to charge rapidly and operate with minimal downtime. Moreover, the compact power pack requirements through the use of their redox flow battery and supercapacitors reduce the cost and weight of powertrains.
Nitrexo advances Railway Analytics
Irish startup Nitrexo develops digital solutions to positively reinforce and improve rail subsystems and equipment. The startup’s advanced analytics technology uses data from automated and sensor-based maintenance to understand maintenance patterns. This data offers significant operational value as it reduces manpower and spare parts requirements as well as overhead costs. Moreover, by providing real-time data analytics, Nitrexo enables rail operators to plan and schedule maintenance activities efficiently, replacing reactive maintenance.
Tekle Holographics enables Railway Infrastructure Visualizations
Dutch startup Tekle Holographics specializes in holographic technology that processes large amounts of data to create fully immersive 3D holograms. It leverages LIDAR scanners on the front of trains to scan infrastructure such as highways, tracks, and waterways. The results of these scans are displayed in real-time through holograms.
This enables railway engineers to remotely monitor the condition of infrastructure. Moreover, Tekle Holographic’s software utilizes the input of the LIDAR scanner and compares the outcome with previous data to determine unusual changes. This provides rail operators with visibility into major transportation infrastructure and also allows them to filter it by area, region, or category.
Sun-Ways manufactures Solar Power Plants on Rail Tracks
Swiss startup Sun-Ways makes removable solar power plants that neatly fit between existing railway tracks. The startup uses its patented hooking system between the rails to allow for rapid mechanical installation and removal of a large number of solar panels. The photovoltaic (PV) panels do not hinder the movement of trains and inject electricity directly into catenaries for train traction. Sun-Way’s technology enables rail operators to decarbonize their railway systems through the quick and cost-effective implementation of solar energy harvesting.
Cambridge Sensoriis provides Drone-based Rail Inspection
UK-based startup Cambridge Sensoriis offers lightweight, highly sensitive, all-weather radar technology for drone-based inspection. The startup’s RadarAware solution uses the RA350 micro radar to enable drones to detect objects in the flight path, whether in the air or on the ground. Further, the radar contains no moving parts and features fully electronic beam-steer antenna arrays. This way, Cambridge Sensoriis’ drones reduce the cost of surveying railway infrastructure. Also, the startup’s long missions do not require the oversight of a ground-based pilot.
Discover All Emerging Rail Startups
The rail startups showcased in this report are only a small sample of all startups we identified through our data-driven startup scouting approach. Download our free Rail Innovation Reportfor a broad overview of the industry or get in touch for quick & exhaustive research on the latest technologies & emerging solutions that will impact your company in 2024!