We Need To Stop Talking About Innovation.

For the last 9 months Alejandro and I have been preaching about innovation in rail.

We’ve talked about hackathons, accelerators and innovation funds day in and day out. From meeting Chief Execs, to speaking onstage in front of 200+ people, everyone has heard the same story. “We are driving innovation in rail by introducing new technologies”, “We’re bringing the world’s best technology startups to trial and deploy their products in the rail industry”, “We are going to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges”… And the list goes on.

We’ve talked and talked — and so have others, but for much longer.

For years rail has talked about innovation. About Smart Ticketing, Traffic Management, Customer Information, Condition Monitoring and Communication.

The industry has taken so long to make decisions that whilst it’s still thinking about strategy and what to invest in, the innovations pass by, become irrelevant and only then do we make a decision to adopt them.

This approach is nothing short of dangerous. We are at risk of letting the entire industry collapse due to inaction.

2 weeks from now the HackTrain Accelerator will launch. 8–10 startups from around the world will base themselves in our 50-desk hub in the heart of Tech City.

The talking is done.

Within three months these innovations will be in the hands of rail staff and the general public in the form of trials. These technologies will deliver real returns to the bottom line and most importantly, improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

It’s not all going to be easy, innovation never is. And this is uncomfortable for some. But it has to be done, there are no other options. We either tackle the problems at hand together or let passengers and the rest of the industry suffer due to our inertia.

Innovation has to feel uncomfortable. If it doesn’t, then we’re not ambitious enough in your goals. When innovating there has to be a level of uncertainty about whether or not the project is achievable — that is how we make the impossible possible.

We’re very excited to be working with First, Stagecoach, Arriva, Go-Ahead and National Express. These five owning groups understand the importance of innovating and are investing in both themselves and their customer’s futures by working with us on the HackTrain Accelerator.

The companies who are involved already will be pioneering the next generation of rail innovations. We cannot wait to show the world what we are capable of.

This is just the start of an incredible journey, there is so much more we need to do. From Rolling Stock Manufacturers, to System Integrators, ROSCOs and Consultancies we are bringing the industry together to truly make a difference.

Join us on this journey. The time for speculating about strategy is now over.

We are taking rail into the 21st century. Let’s do this together.