May 18, 2024

Train companies join forces for tech innovation

LNER, Northern, Southeastern and TransPennine Express have joined together to launch a technology innovation programme, Future Labs.

The programme aims to pioneer innovation across areas including “enhancing customer experience, performance and operational excellence, and developing people and talent”. 

Future Labs will give cutting-edge technology providers the opportunity to apply, test, and demonstrate their solutions in real-world environments over a 12-week period.

The startups, scale-ups, and innovators will be granted invaluable access to mentors and subject matter experts from across the train operators.

In addition, the candidates will have insights into industry data, and access to resources and testing environments. 

The programme is jointly led by Innovation leads at the four train operators, along with Network Rail: Ross Welham (LNER), Christine Lefroy-Owen (Northern), Daniel Taylor (Southeastern) and Colin Kelly (TransPennine Express).   

Danny Gonzalez, LNER Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, said: “Through the collaboration of the four rail operators, we are taking the next necessary step towards embracing new technologies.

“Some of the greatest leaps forward in the rail sector have come through this open approach to innovation, and this new programme marks a significant moment in generating strength of expertise and access for technology companies looking to break into the industry.” 

Applicants are being invited to respond to three industry-led challenges, with an additional category which is open to innovators which can offer solutions beyond the briefs:  

The deadline for applications to the programme is June 16 2024.

  • Performance and Operational Excellence: Solutions to enhance and complement operational performance and back-office processes to give staff the tools they need to bolster their processes 
  • Enhancing Customer Experience: Innovation that helps to improve passenger safety, boost accessibility, and keep customers up to date through their preferred communication channels 
  • Developing People and Talent: Developing unique approaches to strategic resource planning, supporting staff wellness and personal development, and promoting diversity to attract the next generation of talent