Network Rail has tasked Costain with developing a new warning technology to prevent fatalities at footpath and bridleway level crossings.
Around five people die in Britain each year at level crossings, with hundreds of near-misses.
Costain said it will develop “enhanced warning devices” to detect oncoming trains and issue warnings to nearby users.
The first ‘Meerkat’ units are expected to be installed within 12 months, with units to be rolled out across Britain over the next five years.
Costain chief executive Andrew Wyllie said the contract, the value of which has not been disclosed, would demonstrate how “smart infrastructure solutions can help save lives”.
Network Rail head of passenger and public safety Allan Spence said the units would replace hundreds of Victorian ‘whistleboards’ to improve safety.
Costain’s share price has risen more than 6.5 per cent since it revealed half-year results on Wednesday, showing a 2.6 per cent margin on revenue of almost £760m.
Mr Wyllie said the firm was sponsoring 24 PhD students at Cambridge, Imperial College and Edinburgh as it looked to become the UK’s leading “smart infrastructure company”.