Shift2Rail organises hackathon for rail solutions

source: Shift2Rail

In connection with the European Year of Rail, Shift2Rail announces its first online Hackathon ‘Hack 2 Rail’ on 23 and 24 October. To realise an actual shift to rail, there are many challenges that passenger and rail freight face, for which the help of – well, all Europeans – is called upon by Shift2Rail. 

The hackathon doesn’t involve any hacking of software, but is looking for innovative and creative answers to challenges in rail. It revolves around four topics, for both challenges for passenger rail and the rail freight sector. It is organised in partnership with Siemens, where the winning teams will have the possibility to develop their ideas further for the market.

The challenge is open to residents of the European Union and the Horizon 2020 associated countries that are willing to innovate within a team. The teams must be made up of 2 to 5 people, and registrations are individual.


For the passenger rail challenges, the first one addresses the lack of information for both staff and passengers. How can a seamless travel experience be achieved? Another issue is the distribution of passengers for the capacity in the trains, and delivering real-time and accurate information to the passengers in case of disruptions. The second passenger challenge aims to improve the passenger experience in train stations, which involves better guide passengers in a large train station and to a connecting metro for example, but also how people can spend their time when waiting.

Moving goods from road to rail is an important challenge of the upcoming decades, and this is logically also part of the hackathon. Current difficulties include that it is often more complicated to plan transportation of goods via rail than road, and difficult to establish multimodal routes. Also, when customers send packages, they don’t know how big the ecological footprint is, although it could be a reason to use another transport mode.

European Year of Rail

The hackathon is part of the European Year of Rail 2021, in which the European Union aims to highlight the benefits of rail as the green, safe and smart mode of transport which connects people and businesses.

This initiative aims to increase rail’s share of passenger and freight transport, as only about 7 per cent of passengers and 17.6 per cent of goods travel by rail in Europe. The EU is also working to promote eco-friendly modes of transport and achieve climate neutrality by 2050 under the European Green Deal.

The winning teams will receive receive a cash prize of 5000, 3000 or 2000 euros. They will also be invited to showcase their solution at high-profile European Year of Rail events attended by experts, policy makers and the rail industry. Next, they have the possibility of potentially working with Siemens Mobility or other Shift2Rail Members to further develop their winning idea for market deployment.

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Author: Esther Geerts


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