A new frontier in railway innovation

As railways push ahead with digitalisation, more and more are engaging and implementing solutions from a new form of supplier: the tech start-up. This is changing the railway-supplier relationship and altering the industry’s wider approach to innovation, as Kevin Smith discovers.

A new frontier in railway innovation

AIR BNB, Uber and Deliveroo are all house-hold names and multi-billion-dollar companies. They also share humble beginnings. Starting out as a simple idea among associates or friends, these firms rode the wave of smartphone ubiquity and cheap cloud computing to redefine the way we book a hotel, hail a cab, and order takeaway food.

With this generation of start-ups now well-established, a new cohort is eyeing billion-dollar valuations. However, with opportunities to reinvent drying up, these tech start-ups – tomorrow’s unicorns – look more likely to supply software that serves and modernises existing sectors.

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