Network Rail and Hack Partners, the company behind the HackTrain initiative, have launched a new post-hackathon fund designed to accelerate the development of innovative ideas to improve rail services for passengers.

Selected ideas at this year’s HackTrain event (15-17 November) will receive post-hackathon acceleration funding from Network Rail to further develop their concepts to deliver a safer and more reliable service for passengers and freight users. A similar process has been in place for past HackTrain events – with successes including Hubble and Busybot – but this new fund will allow participants to make their ideas a reality much faster than before.

The fund is consistent with the idea behind Network Rail’s Open for Business programme, which seeks to make Network Rail easier to work with, and a more dependable partner by increasing efficiency, creativity and innovation.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “I’m determined that Network Rail becomes a company that can rapidly deploy new technology and innovate ideas, especially to keep people safe, improve services for passengers and provide better value for money for the taxpayer.

“Working with HackTrain gives us a unique opportunity to put this into practice and I can’t wait to see what we come up with this year.”

Andrew will be launching this year’s HackTrain event – its sixth instalment – where he will deliver a keynote speech outlining Network Rail’s plans to innovate and collaborate with partner organisations to improve railway performance.

River Tamoor Baig, Hack Partners founder, said: “The Hack Partners team have worked collaboratively with Network Rail in creating a process that works under existing procurement rules. This is a commercial innovation and a world-first which no other public body has managed to achieve.

“I look forward to seeing what ideas are created at this year’s Hackathon, before working with Network Rail’s Research and Development team on successful entries and making those improvements a reality.”

More information can be found at

Notes to editors

  • Network Rail plans to invest £245m alongside £112m investment by third parties for research and development in Control Period 6, which runs from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2024.
  • Hack Partners works to improve the railway and wider infrastructure industry through digital transformation projects and events such as Hackathons.
  • Hackathon VI will be the sixth instalment of the event, which challenges small teams to intensively build products in a short space of time to tackle challenges relating to rail performance.
  • Hubble is an artificial intelligence-assisted lineside inspection and maintenance planning solution that will help Network Rail boost the resilience of railway infrastructure, help reduce delays for passengers and freight users and reduce maintenance costs.
  • One of the ideas initially conceived at HackTrain 2.0, Busybot helps 9.5 million passengers every year find a seat on their train.