Wednesday 7 December 2022

The UIC Final TrainRail Hackathon was held on 29 November and the winner is…

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The final of the UIC TrainRail hackathon was held at the UIC headquarters on 29 November, the day before the 6th edition of UIC World Congress on Rail Training (WCRT).The UIC launched its first global Rail Hackathon as part of a series of measures to increase rail’s appeal, aimed universities and railway undertakings.

At the opening ceremony, Meryem Belhaj-Clot, Deputy HR Director and Head of HR Development, welcomed all of the participants and then gave the floor to the keynote speaker Marleen van de Kerkhof, who is the Rail Ambassador for the European Year of Youth.

Van de Kerkhof stated that railways provide solutions for decarbonising transport, are the driving force behind sustainability for young people, and that innovation is of immense importance to the rail sector. She urged young talent from railway companies and universities to collaborate in the hackathon to find innovative solutions to increase rail’s resilience.

Additionally, Belhaj-Clot affirmed the theme of this UIC TrainRail hackathon: “How can railways be resilient in the face of pandemics?” and explained how the hackathon was the result of multi-regional collaboration between universities, railway undertakings, and corporate training centres.

The Hackathon aims to:

  • Raise the younger generation’s awareness of the relationship between the development of rail and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Enhance their understanding of the spirit of innovation
  • Develop their skills in working with people from diverse backgrounds, which will prepare them to become world leaders and thinkers in contributing to a sustainable world
  • Support the challenges of railway companies and education and training establishments with creativity
  • Mobilise the best internal and external talent
  • Turn ideas into reality

Belhaj-Clot further informed the audience that there were 87 groups of talented young people from the Asian-Pacific, African, European, and Middle Eastern regions who created and presented their projects on reinforcing the railway sector. Due to the pandemic, the competitions were held in a hybrid format, both online and in-person.

To conclude her speech, she introduced the 14 members of the jury, which was composed of experts and researchers representing railway companies and universities from different countries and regions. Seven teams from the different regions participated in the final, presented their projects and answered to the jury’s questions.

After each team had presented, the jury withdrew to deliberate. The winning teams were announced and congratulated at the WCRT 2022 opening ceremony on 30 November. The selected winning projects and teams are as follows:

1st prize: “Saflow: Intelligent passenger flow management system”, by Yasser HADDAM, Rachid LAROUSSI EL ALAMI, Anass MANDOUR, Chaïmae TOUBALI and Aurel V.J YOUBI MIBAMBO from the African Region

This project consists of a system through which cameras and sensors (monitoring and regulating movements) provide a reliable and real-time view of the movements and volume of travellers in stations, on platforms and onboard trains. This means that, in addition to the average waiting being displayed inside the station (in the counter area), data can also be shared in real time with travellers so that they can prepare in advance and better manage their journeys (avoid rush hours, avoid congested areas of stations, know in advance the possible waiting times in station, etc.).

The main goal of this solution is to highlight risk in real time, (based on social distancing recommendations, crowd movement patterns and area size), and quickly identify congested areas and take the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of contamination.

2nd prize: “Railway Foldable Container”, by Keyi LI, Ruifan LUO, Yue FENG, Yuqing ZHANG and Danyu WANG from the Asian-Pacific Region

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, China Railway Express has grown exponentially. Before the outbreak in 2020, the transfer ratio of outbound international trains to inbound trains was 1:2, and it has now risen to 1:3, which means that for every three containers sent to Europe, only one will return with cargo. This brings about several problems.

One such problem is that empty containers are overstocked in Europe, and the transport capacity for returning the containers cannot meet the demand; thus, the rental fee for containers will double or even triple. To solve this problem, a new foldable container specially designed for railway transit has been created. Combining the foldable container with the mortise and tenon technique, the team has invented the universal railway foldable container.

3rd prize: “Monarch System”, by Fabiano FUMAGALLI and Cristiano MAJORCA from the European Region

The Monarch System aims to make railway companies resilient in the event of a pandemic, taking on board the lessons learned from the management of Covid-19. Actions should focus on containing, if not eliminating, contagions: on the one hand, by using UV-C technologies to eradicate the virus both in train carriages and stations; and, on the other, by monitoring access to railways and limiting access to trains.

LED UV-C is an available technology able to eliminate any virus present in the air and on surfaces, directly or indirectly, with low energy consumption and little maintenance required, both in train carriages and stations. The project proposes the use of portable UV-C equipment and explores the possibility of installing a UV kit as a fixed item in each rail vehicle and, eventually, station.

Highly commended: “Virtual Railway Ecological Solution”, by Muhua ZHANG, Zixuan WU, Yujia MA, Yue GU, Qing PENG and Syed Waqar Hussain SHAH from the Asian-Pacific Region

Railway enthusiasts (“railfans”) are a group of non-industry people with an understanding and love of railways. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was difficult for railfans to conduct offline activities to interact with the railway industry as they used to (e.g. riding on trains with special significance, visiting locomotives with special features, etc.). However, it is possible for railfans to maintain a continuity of interaction without leaving home thanks to the solution provided by this project.

The solution works with the railway industry to bring railfans a complete and comfortable digital railway experience and a safe and trustworthy online communication space: the team offers digital content for various train simulation games containing locally specific routes and rolling stock on their own digital content sales and encrypted distribution platform (RWC Platform).

The final jury of the Hackathon praised the quality of all the regional projects, their innovation and the creativity of the young talent coming from railway companies, universities, engineering schools, business schools, etc.

For them, there were no winners or losers because the spirit of the competition was based on mobilising talents to work together, brainstorm, collaborate and help create a sustainable world.

The objective of the Hackathon was achieved, and all teams shone with innovative ideas and successful projects.

For further information, please contact Meryem Belhaj-Clot, Deputy HR Director and Head of HR Development at: belhaj-clot@uic.org or or Yuke LI at li@uic.org

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