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This past weekend we joined 120 developers, designers and entrepreneurs for 3 days ‘on board’ trains throughout the UK, hacking the challenges of the rail experience.

SilverRail were headline sponsors of Hacktrain 2.0, we made our API’s available and served as (much appreciated) mentors among teams and sat on the judging panel.

The HackTrain launch was on Friday afternoon where we heard from Andrew Jone, the Minister of Transport, Gerard Grech, the CEO of TechCity and other leaders in the rail industry. There were three trains, which all departed from London on Friday night and converged on the National Railway Museum in York Sunday for the finals. Each train had a different theme – the Customer Experience train, the Big Data train and the Infrastructure train.

It was a spectacularly well organised and high energy event focused on both disruption and innovation in the UK rail industry. The 12 finalists below all gave a 4-minute pitch on their business model and customer validation with a product demo or prototype. They are as follows:

1st Place: Trainlicious – solving overcrowding and passenger distribution through the innovative use of existing CCTV infrastructure (for face recognition to count numbers on the platform & on trains).

2nd Place: Goodthings (come to those who wait) – solving overcrowding through influencing customer behaviour and incentivising customers to take a different or less crowded train (reward, e.g., free coffees). They suggested using geofencing to counter gasification.

3rd Place: Ticket – scan your current train ticket with your smartphone camera to determine its validity on other services, the estimated arrival time and any delays.

Joint 4th & 5th Place: Disruption Feed – created structured data and a visual display of disruption (using the Darwin data) that can integrate with existing booking services, and PlanARoo – a hub for smart rescheduling. It uses computer aided scheduling to optimise idle and/ or under-utilised trains.

SilverRail hearts Hacktrain 3

 The other teams (in no particular order – they were all excellent):

* Train Guard – providing contextual data around your future journey, such as a football match or a concert, that might affect your journey, so you can re-plan the journey. For example, if Chelsea or Arsenal is playing football, it will let you know so you can avoid the train or tube at that time.
* Journey – reducing the “paradox of choice”. It knows your preferences (based on history) so reduces your choice of options making it easier to book a ticket . For example, do you prefer fast and expensive or cheaper and slower?
* Chat Point – virtual meeting point on trains. Chatting to other people on the train and making connections (“Tinder & Linkedin for trains”!)
* Rail Assist – improving the customer experience for assisted customers by connecting them directly with staff at the station through an App . It would also help visually impaired customers. For example, Virgin trains already has iPhones infrastructure in place for its employees.
* RICCS (Rail Incident Contingency Control System) – dynamic rescheduling of trains using the signalling infrastructure to reduce disruption and delay. Created an algorithm to use the signalling infrastructure and reduce manual input.
* Traxi – integrated taxi sharing – matching customers on the train to share a taxi to the same end destination (“ for seats”!)
* Off the Rail – notify & reschedule journeys to arrive punctually at an end point ,for time sensitive customers and reschedule based on price & desired ETA.

It was a fun, adrenaline-fuelled exhausting weekend. I need some time to catch-up on sleep but I am already looking forward to the next one. Thank you to everyone who took part and the folks at Hacktrain for pulling it off!
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