HackTrain’s Quest to Bring Innovation to the Rail Industry – Hackathon
As Railway-News reported last November, HackTrain ran its on-train hackathon where the 120 participants were put on three different trains focusing on three different subject areas – data, customer experience, and infrastructure.
They then grouped themselves into teams and set off on their train journey to York (home of the National Railway Museum and site of the finale).
These trains were regular passenger trains and the teams were tasked with coming up with innovative solutions for the rail industry. The goal: to help the rail sector transform into an industry full of innovation and modernization and quick turnaround times from idea to implementation.
This hackathon, however, was only part of the vision held by HackTrain founders River Baig and Alejandro Saucedo. They are serious about wanting to infuse the traditionally less cutting-edge rail sector with innovation.
Part of the problem, they’ve always maintained, is that the approach of developing a product or technology to perfection first and then launching it is flawed. It means too much upfront investment. It means too much time from concept to implementation And, importantly, it means no option for continuous customer feedback to make the product truly useful.
Now they have launched their Hack Train RailTech Accelerator, a three-month programme where early-stage tech companies are able to test their products on both customers and railway staff, all while receiving hugely valuable mentoring.
River Baig, Co-founder of HackTrain, said:
“Much like everyone who travels by train regularly, we want customer service and operational efficiency to improve. It is something that we are incredibly passionate about and why we are so driven and motivated to play our part in making the UK the world’s hub for RailTech. […] We want to make sure their efforts and enthusiasm translate into real results by providing funding, industry contacts and a shorter and more efficient procurement cycle so that passengers can benefit from these new solutions faster.”
However, what is exciting here is the collaborative approach. This RailTech Accelerator enjoys the support of important UK players in the transport sector, such as First Group / GWR, Stagecoach / Virgin Trains, Arriva, National Express and Govia, and that of major service providers to the rail industry such as BAE Systems, EY, Novocroft and Osborne Clark.
Another positive feature of this RailTech Accelerator programme is that it is run by two people who don’t come from the rail sector. As a result, they can offer a truly fresh perspective and bring successful approaches from other industries to the rail sector.
Alison Smith, Head of Customer Experience at GWR, said:
“Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we travel. Not only distances covered, but in the way we access information about services and in our ability to purchase ‘smart’ tickets while already on the move. […] That is why we support this accelerator programme, bringing together some of the brightest minds in technology and design to further improve passenger experience.”
During HackTrain’s RailTech Accelerator, which is based in the heart of London’s Tech City and will run until 3 June, the supporting rail companies will provide weekly mentoring sessions to the teams to help them deliver innovative solutions for the rail industry. Some of the ten participating teams are already more established. Others are in the early stages. Some teams are small with just 1–2 employees, while others have up to 70.
The participating teams are as follows:
· Sirenum streamlines the management of part-time, temporary, mobile and remote staff
· iGeolise have created the TravelTime API, which makes it possible to search location data by travel time rather than distance
· Powermat equips venues such as trains and stations with wireless charging facilities
· ParkJockey is a parking product to facilitate parking for both the driver and the parking space operator
· Nimber is a community delivery service where items can be sent with someone already travelling to that destination
· Pointr is an indoor location data and analytics platform helping users access data about who was in their venue, what they searched for and other such features
· Vivacity Labs have smart cameras to quantify and classify moving objects anonymously. They could be used to count platform occupancy or look for potential suicides; the long-term data could benefit future station design
· Ticket allows customers to access innovative features by scanning their paper ticket with their smartphone camera
· Dojo is a mobile service that helps users find the most interesting and unique things to do in their city
· Dispatch Messenger Ltd is an app allowing users to shop by chat. The requested items will be sourced and purchased from London shops and delivered within an hour
Disruption Feed, which won the Post-Hackaton event held in London last December and thereby won a place on the Accelerator, is not participating.
Russian rolling stock manufacturer TMH has won the 2020 Red Dot Design Award in the Design Concept category.
The SBCTA Board has approved a Memorandum of Understanding with XpressWest to explore the feasibility of a high-speed rail line.
Bombardier has won a 4-year maintenance contract with Vy Tåg for its Night Train fleet when it takes over the franchise in December.
Eurofima is providing financing to Renfe Operatora in two transactions (200m euros and 103m euros) for new Civia EMUs.
CAF has won a contract with Renfe to supply a total of 37 metre-gauge trains in a two-part order worth 250 million euros.
The UK prime minister marked the start of construction of the Siemens Mobility Rail Factory in Goole, on 6 July 2020.
The first nine body shells for the new fleet of Hitachi AT300 trains (Class 805 and Class 807) for Avanti West Coast have arrived in the UK.
Bombardier has won a contract in India to supply 67 3-car MOVIA metro trains for the Agra and Kanpur metros, along with signalling equipment.
Hitachi Rail has partnered with Hyperdrive Innovation to drive forward battery technology for trains in Britain as an additional power option.
Hungary: Mav-Start has exercised a contract option and ordered a further 4 tram-trains in addition to the original 8 from Stadler.
HS2 Ltd has started its search for overhead catenary system suppliers in preparation of awarding the £300m contract in 2022.
The CER has published a position paper advocating for applying the user-pays and polluter-pays principles across the transport sector.
Russia: UWC has delivered 36 tank cars for the transportation of sodium hydroxide and other chemicals to Khimprom.
GB Railfreight has signed an agreement with DB Cargo UK to maintain ten of its Class 60 diesel-electric locomotives for 3 years.
HS2 Ltd has launched a new hiring drive in anticipation of the start of major construction works on Phase 1 of the high-speed rail project.
Stadler has signed a contract with Arriva for the retrofit of 36 FLIRT trains with the GUARDIA ETCS solution and their homologation.
Newag will manufacture seven new 4-car Impuls 2 electric multiple units for two operators in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
Deutsche Bahn (DB) is expanding its programme to paint rails white as a way of keeping them cool and protecting the steel from the heat.
DB Cargo Belgium has begun operating under an exclusively Belgian licence and ran its first train under that licence on 14 June.
Transmashholding has begun delivering on its 1300 passenger coaches for Egyptian National Railways, its largest-ever order.
Bombardier has delivered the first MOVIA C30 metro trains to Stockholm, Sweden, following their homologation in June 2019.
HS2: The preparatory works at Euston station have reached a milestone with the demolition of the western ramp and canopy complete.
Knorr-Bremse has signed a partnership agreement with RZD and ECRT for the development of Russia's next-generation very high-speed trains.
Alstom has received full certification for its ETCS Baseline 3 Release 2 solution featuring its data fusion algorithm for trains in Norway.
The Spanish rail infrastructure manager ADIF has awarded two signalling contracts to CAF with a total value of 30 million euros.
HS2 Ltd has revealed the construction companies that are shortlisted to tender for the Birmingham Curzon Street station build.
CAF has won contracts to supply metro trains to Naples as well as Urbos trams to Stockholm and Amsterdam for a combined value of €100m.
The Sense Valley Line will become operational in April 2021. That's three months later than originally planned, due to approval delays etc.
Bombardier has received an order from SNCF on behalf of Normandy to supply an additional 27 OMNEO Premium double-decker EMUs.
UTLC Eurasian Rail Alliance says it has seen an increase in mail trains from China to Europe as a result of the restrictions on air freight.
The go-ahead has been given for Newcastle Central Station to have the area to the front of it redeveloped to improve passenger access.
Stadler's GUARDIA European Train Control System (ETCS) has received its first homologation, namely for its FLIRT trains for Poland.
HS2 Ltd has launched its search for its operational telecoms supplier for Phase 1 and 2a of the high-speed line between London and Crewe.
The Federal Office of Transport (BAV) has granted BÄR Bahnsicherung Type Approval for its EUROLOCKING electronic interlocking system.
Coronavirus: OEBB will resume its Nightjet sleeper trains to destinations such as Prague, Zurich, Berlin and Venice starting on 26 June.
RATP Dev, ComfortDelGro and Alstom have signed a partnership agreement to submit joint tenders for the Grand Paris Express.
The New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA), which consists of two north-south axes through Switzerland, will open fully in December.
The East Coast Main Line in the UK will become the first mainline in the country to go digital in its signalling system via ETCS.
The first automated people mover (APM) for Bangkok's Gold Line arrives in Thailand. It was manufactured by a Bombardier JV in China.
Keolis has had two of its contracts in the United States extended. The first by MBTA in the Boston area, the second in Washington D.C. (VRE).
Stadler takes over digitalisation expert in Germany to expand its portfolio in the hardware and software components for rolling stock market.
The University of Birmingham has received 400k in grant money from Innovate UK to develop its hydrogen-powered train, the HydroFLEX.
SNCF Réseau, the company's infrastructure arm, has launched its 2020 hiring drive, during which it wants to recruit 1000 rail staff.
UWC has completed its supply of 100 box cars for logistics company Kuchukterminal, raising its fleet to 220 box cars.
Rolling stock company Porterbrook has been awarded 400k in funding for a trial fit of emissions reduction technology on Class 170 DMUs.
The UK High Court has ruled in favour of the Department of Transport, finding that its disqualification of TOCs over pensions was lawful.
The European Court of Auditors has published a report of its audit of the European Commission's management of 8 EU mega-projects.
Alstom is providing remote support services to the operational control centre for lines 1,2 and 4 of the MetrôRio, Rio de Janeiro
Transfesa Logistics, a freight operator majority-owned by Deutsche Bahn, is renewing its European container fleet.
HS2 has launched an Innovation Accelerator to help develop solutions in three areas: the environment, the circular economy, and productivity.
Hitachi begins manufacturing the 5 Class 803 EMUs in its East Coast Trains order. The trains will run on the East Coast Main Line from 2021.
Transitio AB has triggered a second option from its 2016 framework agreement, ordering 12 additional KISS trains from Stadler.
Eurofima is making 80 million euros in funding available to DSB – Danish State Railways – for the purchase of Siemens Vectron locomotives.
Vivarail has secured a loan worth 1.5 million GBP that will help it expand by moving into new premises and hiring new staff.
SBB has installed solar panels to produce traction electricity. They can produce enough electricity for 1.4 million passenger kilometres.
HS2 has revealed the first images of its south portal launch site from where two German-made TBMs will dig the Chiltern tunnels.
Swiss train operator has received the go-ahead to order an additional 20 Capricorn EMUs from Stadler in addition to the original 36.
The first Bombardier Aventra Class 701 for South Western Railway (SWR) has been delivered from Derby. The total order is for 90 trains.
Competitive railway undertakings and rail advocacy groups have expressed dismay at the Bundesrat support for the LNG toll exemption.
Rail freight punctuality has increased from 60 percent to 80–90 percent during the coronavirus crisis due to greater network availability.
RZD International has completed excavating the Čortanovci tunnel on the railway line between Belgrade and Budapest.
The African Development Bank has committed a grant of 1.2 million USD to the Ethiopian government for a Ethiopia-Sudan railway line study.
UWC has signed a contract with Russian oil refinery Slavneft-YANOS for the supply of tank cars for transporting molten sulphur.
Skoda has received homologation for its third ForCity Smart Artic tram for the town of Schöneiche, Germany. It was manufactured in Finland.
Deutsche Bahn has equipped 28,000 points with sensors turning them into smart points. These points enable predictive maintenance.
Network Rail has completed the electrification of the London-Cardiff line by installing overhead wires through the 7km Severn Tunnel.
The German stimulus package has been welcomed by rail groups, saying it will push forward important innovations and provide much-needed funds.
Deutsche Bahn says that despite the coronavirus pandemic less than 1 percent of rail infrastructure works have been cancelled or postponed.
Coronavirus: from 15 June face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in England in line with a further easing of restrictions.
The new Alstom Coradia LINT fleet is due to enter service in Bavaria from 14 June, following the order signing in December 2018.
Alstom has partnered with energy infrastructure company Snam to bring hydrogen trains to Italy as one of the solutions for greening transport.
After the German government moved ahead with an ongoing exemption to the lorry toll, rail groups have asked the Bundesrat for help.
Bombardier Transportation has signed an agreement with QUEST Global extending their collaborative efforts that began in 2017.
Rail freight operator Lineas is putting on extra services to anticipate low water levels which previously have prevented barge transports.
DB Regio will support Abellio in operating the RE 1 services in Germany, before Abellio will run full RRX trains in December 2020.
After only taking on the role of Keolis Executive Chairman in February 2020, the Supervisory Board has terminated Patrick Jeantet's contract.
A Spanish high-speed train, type Alvia, has derailed near Zamora due to a collision with a vehicle that had fallen from an overpass.
In its May infringements package the European Commission has said it sent Germany a formal letter of notice about its quiet brakes regulation.
RS-Trans has ordered 25 tank cars from UWC for the transportation of sulphuric acid. The model 15-9545 tank cars have 25t axle load bogies.
TU Dresden, the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and Rock Rail have launched joint project into battery power.
Bulgarian State Railways has ordered ten 25kV AC Smartron locomotives from Siemens Mobility, for delivery between February and May 2021.
Passenger services in Switzerland can resume fully in June following an easing of restrictions put in place because of coronavirus.
EUROFIMA, a rolling stock financing company with a non-profit mission, has agreed a 200m euro loan with FS Italiane for TRAXX locomotives.
Private railway undertakings in Germany want to seek assistance from the European Commission following a DB-only bailout package approval.
HS2 has received delivery of the first steel girders for the first bridges to be built on the project at the Birmingham Interchange site.
Alstom has won an innovation prize from the German government for its project to test Automatic Train Operation on regional passenger trains.
Siemens Mobility has won a contract with Stockholm Extended Metro Administration to provide electrification services for the expansion works.
There is anger at the coronavirus agreement signed by Deutsche Bahn and the federal government that excludes non-state railways.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has chosen Alstom Signalling LLC to upgrade its SCADA system, which was installed in 1996.
Bombardier has signed two contracts for the delivery of 28 BiLevel rail cars in a procurement overseen by Sound Transit, Seattle.
The ETCS system fitted on a Class 387 EMU has undergone another successful suite of testing by Porterbrook, Bombardier, GWR, DB Cargo & PCMS.
Deutsche Bahn has reached a coronavirus agreement with the German government, union, works council and employers' association.
Private transport operator Transdev has won a number of contracts for bus and rail services in Sweden amounting to 1.2 billion euros.
Network Rail has unveiled plans for the remaining section of new sea wall at Dawlish, with works on the first section ongoing.
Skoda Transtech has delivered the first of 19 trams to the Finnish city of Tampere under a contract it won in 2017.
From June Deutsche Bahn will run train services into all neighbouring countries again, following a gradual resumption in May.
Metronet of Western Australia has awarded 2 works contracts. The first is for Bayswater Station, the second a level crossing removal.
HS2 has adopted the CESAR ECV, an emissions identification scheme, to help keep emissions across its sites as low as possible.
2020 has its challenges to the rail sector with the coronavirus pandemic but there has been good news too: HS2 has its notice to proceed.
Stadler Group CEO Dr Thomas Ahlburg parts ways with the company with immediate effect. Peter Spuhler takes over as interim Group CEO.
Please fill in the contact form opposite. A member of the team will be in touch shortly.