Infectious enthusiasm and bright ideas were on display at last week’s HackTrain Conference. But there were also some difficult questions for the rail industry

 

HackTrain

 

This was a transport conference like no other. The presentations were positive and pacey, and many of the speakers held lightsabres as they addressed an audience of 250 in London last week.

This was the HackTrain Conference, an event that brought Silicon Valley-style free thinking and dynamism to the rail industry, exploring how innovation and technology can address customer service and operational issues.

The enthusiasm of HackTrain’s co-founders, River Tamoor Baig and Alejandro Saucedo, was infectious. But while the event had a playful air, their message was serious. The day saw some of the rail industry’s idiosyncrasies come under fire. Why, for example, does the industry’s safety board administer its major innovation funds? And why do the same large companies keep winning contracts to build “a nicer pile of crap” on outdated systems?

The HackTrain movement was endorsed by the Department for Transport’s representive. “If you work in an organisation that isn’t working with these guys, you need to be,” urged Gavin James, DfT’s digital and telecommunications programme manager.

 

Further HackTrain coverage in the latest issue of Passenger Transport:

 

HackTrain is achieving ‘amazing’ ambitions
The fledgling HackTrain movement drew praise at its conference in London last week, with start-ups delivering significant breakthroughs

Action urged to remove barriers to innovation
Report by HackTrain co-founders may make uncomfortable reading for the rail industry but could ‘very well be the turning point for our railway’

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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