HackTrain, a nationwide private sector and government-supported initiative to drive innovation in the railway industry has started today, with the launch of a 48-hour hackathon which will see 120 software developers, designers and entrepreneurs from across the world board three trains travelling between London and York.
On this journey, participants will be challenged by rail professionals to identify and create new technology solutions that can drastically improve customer experience and operational efficiency.
HackTrain was founded by two young hackathon and technology experts, River Tamoor Baig and Alejandro Saucedo, who have brought together an ecosystem of software developers, designers and industry experts to officially drive forward the UK’s growing RailTech (Railway Technology) movement.
The journey began at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel with speeches from Andrew Jones MP, minister for transport and Gerard Grech, CEO of TechCity UK, as well as the UK rail companies SilverRail, Trainline, Eversholt Rail Group, National Rail, Virgin Trains East Coast, South West Trains and Great Western Railway. Participants and mentors will then embark on three separate train journeys to the National Railway Museum in York where they will present their prototypes.
After the hackathon, a 10 day consultation period will follow, after which the 10 best teams will be invited to present their proposals next month to the UK’s biggest industry influencers, including the UK’s rail minister, Claire Perry, and CEO’s of major train operators.
Following this the winning team will then enter into the world’s first rail accelerator programme, the HackTrain Accelerator, where they will be awarded a £25,000 investment and given the opportunity to work with industry experts and suppliers to develop and trial their product.
Co-founder of HackTrain, River Tamoor Baig, commented: ‘The railway industry is the backbone of the UK enabling individuals and businesses to travel and connect with whoever they wish. Technology has disrupted other industries such as finance and aviation making them more efficient and useful to everyone. By harnessing technology and data in the right way we can take the same leap forward in rail.’
‘The HackTrain initiative will mark the first time that all major influencers from across the eco-system will come together for the purpose of improving passenger experience and operational efficiency in rail, by creating new technologies and identifying the micro-policies that are the biggest barriers to innovation. Through this process, we will be able to develop breakthrough improvements in an incredibly short amount of time. The initiative will ultimately help to bridge the gap between industry experts and technology innovators, enabling us to drive a rail revolution that the UK has never seen before.’
Minister for Transport Andrew Jones said: ‘I am delighted that some of the best technological minds are joining us to explore innovative ways to improve journeys for customers. The teams have been set some very real and important challenges, and I very much look forward to seeing what solutions they find.’
Carmel Roche, senior director, mobile at SilverRail, commented: ‘We are delighted to be sponsoring the HackTrain and making our API’s available for the developers, designers and thinkers of our industry. It’s a great opportunity for us to meet that great talent and challenge them to be innovative. We are really excited to be part of the action.’