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HackTrain kick starts RailTech movement

Today saw the launch of HackTrain, a nationwide private sector and government supported initiative to drive innovation in the railway industry.

The five-year initiative kicked off with the launch of a 48-hour hackathon called The HackTrain, 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 in the railway industry.

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 movement.

The journey began at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel with keynote speeches delivered from Andrew Jones MP, Minister for Transport, and Gerard Grech, CEO of TechCity UK, as well as the UK’s top train companies (SilverRail, Trainline, Eversholt Rail Group, National Rail, Virgin East Coast Trains, South West Trains and Great Western Railways).

Participants and mentors then embarked 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 back their proposals in December to the UK’s biggest industry influencers, including the UK’s Rail Minister, Claire Perry, and CEOs of major train operators.

Following this judging process, 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.

“The railway industry is the backbone of the UK enabling individuals and businesses to travel and connect with whoever they wish,” said River Tamoor Baig.

“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.”