4.10.2023 /

East West Rail Trackathon proves an innovation hit with suppliers

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East West Rail (EWR) is a once in a generation opportunity to connect communities between Oxford and Cambridge with jobs, education and opportunities. However, to maximise the potential of the project, it’s vital that we learn from those across the transport sector and beyond. If we don’t engage with wider projects and the innovation supply chain we run the risk of not only wasting time, but money.

With this in mind, we delivered our first Trackathon event, across two days, in partnership with facilitators at Sparksfly. With a focus on delivering the railway faster and cheaper, we arranged this not only to learn from best practice across the sector, but to understand supply potential to enable us to deliver best value for the taxpayer.

A list of 144 possible innovation challenges spanning everything from maintenance automation to staff information systems was assessed internally, resulting in the list of six challenges used for the Trackathon. These challenges were chosen by the experts across teams at EWR because they have the some of the highest potential for positive impact on the project.

Our two-part Trackathon then refined these challenges with industry partners ranging from HS2, to Network Rail, to TfL and National Highways, to learn best practice and investigate where we should focus our efforts moving forward. On the second day, we engaged with a wide range of suppliers, digging into what innovators are currently delivering and have the potential to deliver. For both days, we’ll be producing a comprehensive report to ensure we can carry value forward, make an impact at EWR, and explore opportunities to engage more deeply with the supply chain.