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All Aboard! HackTrain Event Aims To Use Data To Solve Rail Industry’s Problems

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Teams of developers and designers on a weekend train journey will work on innovative railway projects to improve the rail travel experience

Teams of developers and designers from around the world have met up in England to create innovative software and mobile apps that could solve some of the rail industry’s biggest challenges.

120 people are taking part in the HackTrain event with participants divided into groups and put on three trains sponsored by GWR, Virgin Trains East Coast, and South West Trains. They will then work on creating new rail industry technologies as they travel around England by train.

Team effort

The three-day trip started in London today, November 20, with stops at Doncaster and Newcastle, and a final stop at the National Railway Museum in York. The teams will develop their ideas over the weekend in preparation for final presentations on Sunday and a chance to win a trip to Singapore.

mobile phone train signal © Peter Bernik ShutterstockThe HackTrain is a movement driving forward innovation in the railway industry through running meetups, ‘hackathons’ and an accelerator programme. HackTrain is building a platform that attracts Silicon Valley like-minded individuals that are interested in solving some of the biggest challenges the rail industry faces – including issues regarding customer experience, efficiency and security.

This is HackTrain’s second ‘hackathon’ on rails. The first event took place in March 2015 and had one train with 40 participants, showing how popular the event has already grown.

HackTrain participants will be active on social media during the event and tweeting with the official #HackTheRails. Each train will also have its own hashtag. GWR will use #GWRHackTrain for GWR, #VTECHHackTrain for Virgin Trains East Coast, and #SWTHackTrain for South West Trains.

River Tam, organiser of HackTrain, said: “For this event, our participants will be relying on support from the tech community to build their products.”

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