On the 22 November, Martin Engelcke (Engineering Science, 2011) and Warren Cheung (Engineering Science, 2012) were part of a team that won a 48-hour hackathon to improve Britain’s trains.
For the event, 150 of the best software developers, designers and entrepreneurs from around the world worked in teams to find new ways to make railways more efficient. The event took place on three trains travelling between London and York. Each train was manned by eight industry experts who acted as mentors to the teams as they developed their prototypes.
Martin and Warren’s team, called Trainlicious, focused on solving the problem of uneven passenger distribution within a train by using CCTV footage to display a train’s crowdedness on the platform. In addition, they planned to send that information straight to smartphones to allow passengers to make better judgements about where to board the train and increase the likelihood of getting a seat.
The team were awarded first prize, which included flights and tickets to tech convention, Tech in Asia, in Singapore; tickets to Smart Rail Europe in Amsterdam in April to present their ideas; and the opportunity to pitch to railway industry judges in a separate event called the Post-Hackathon Pitching event, which took place on the 2nd of December.
Judges of the second event included Iain Roche from HS2, Jacqueline Starr from ATOC, Carmel Roche from SilverRail, Alison Smith from GWR, Stéphanie Rivet from Stagecoach Group and Thomas Ableman from Chiltern Railways. The top ten teams from the HackTrain event were given an additional ten days to refine their products before pitching for a prize of £25,000 in funding.
After a four minute pitch and two minutes of questions from the judges it was announced by Stéphanie Rivet that Trainlicious came in 2nd place out of the 10 teams that participated. The winners were team Disruption Feed, who focused on improving communications of disruptions to passengers. They wanted to give customers simple visual information about where disruptions are taking place and when by using clear monitors and also providing the option of having a calendar feed, so that passengers could see disruptions in their calendars on their smartphones.