App for Train Routes Wins Europes First Rail-Focused Hackathon

Image Courtesy of HackTrain

A Skyscanner-like app for trains has been awarded 1st Place at HackTrain (, Europes first rail-focused hackathon. Reroo, which lets passengers book cheaper train tickets by finding alternative routes, beat other inventions including a hyperlapse station map, an onboard entertainment cloud and an app to help commuters find empty seats.

Launched at St Pancras station where rail executives presented their challenges, HackTrain took 40 of the best developers, designers and entrepreneurial brains from across Europe from London, stopping at Sheffield and Edinburgh before winners were announced at the National Rail Museum in York over the weekend of 27-29 March.

First Rail-Focused Hackathon

The winning project, Reroo, uses a smart graph algorithm that queries the Darwin API and calculates the fastest and cheapest travel routes. Second place went to Elastic, an app that uses hyperlapse to cut travel times in stations. Taking 3rd place was Captivate, who had over 50 passengers from Edinburgh to York using their entertainment portal similar to those found on planes.

HackTrain founder and chief organiser River Tamoor Baig said: 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 thats why were excited about the potential of HackTrain. We want to help train companies innovate, understand their customers more and provide a better passenger service.

Hackers had access to Bloomberg API, a set of software development kits that allows creation of applications that consume market data along with newly available data from Network Rail and National Rail Enquiries, which provided real-time train information. The TrainLine used the hashtag #TLHackTrain to ask customers what new feature theyd like to see in their app 

Paul Williams, Head of Software Infrastructure for London R&D at Bloomberg L.P. and a member of the HackTrain judging panel, said: “Team Reroo stood out with a solution targeted really well at the student market. Their sleek, user-friendly interface allows consumers to find the right balance between cost and speed of travel on a simple sliding scale and instantly find the best ticket combination for any journey in the UK. If they can get the integration with ticketing and timetable services right, this could become the easiest way of booking train travel for cost-conscious passengers.”

Great Train Apps

Other developments included Bogie, which helps commuters find empty seats; IceBreaker, a train-only social network that connects passengers with similar interests and Spon-train-eous, which introduces people to towns they wouldnt normally visit via train-seats not used.

Samad Masood, Accentures head of Open Innovation UK, said: Organisations are under more pressure than ever to stay ahead of customer expectations, and events like HackTrain are an excellent forum to connect energetic and innovative individuals together to bring new ideas and possibilities to life quickly. With some of Europes best developers involved, we saw some great ideas over the course of the event that will drive innovation in the travel and transportation industry. 

Joe Parrish, Customer Experience Manager for East Midlands Trains, said: “It was absolutely fantastic to be involved and support such an innovative and exciting event. The talented developers came up with some really interesting and clever products and we are pleased to have helped make the first Hacktrain such a success.”

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