A Skyscanner-style app that uses a smart graph algorithm to hack the National Rail Enquiries Darwin API in order to find cheap alternative routes has won Europe’s first train hackathon.
HackTrain took 40 devs with working prototypes, including the makers of cheap travel app Reroo, on a three-day journey from Kings Cross station up the UK, on a train of course, giving them time to build out solutions based on challenges set by rail bosses.
Second place went to Elastic, an app that uses hyperlapse photography to cut travel times in stations. Captivate, in third place, brought its entertainment portal to train passengers.
HackTrain founder and chief organiser River Tamoor Baig said that he created the hackathon to help an industry that’s so far been missed by the tech revolution.
“The rail industry has been overlooked when it comes to tech innovation – but we know there are huge opportunities to increase efficiency and improve the customer experience – that’s why we’re excited about the potential of HackTrain. We want to help train companies innovate, understand their customers more and provide a better passenger service.”
The event was organised by the northern accelerator Dotforge and HackaGlobal, which aims to connect developers with Science City York. Sponsors included Bloomberg, which gave access to its API, Accenture, The TrainLine, Nomad Digital, East Midlands Trains and Virgin Trains East Coast.
The winning teams are now going to be pitch their products to a group of senior rail industry stakeholders.