One of those ideas was to run a Hackday, but not any old Hackday, one centred around Railways. Network Rail had just opened up their realtime Datafeeds and as far as I knew, no one else had ever run one. Sure, there had been Transport Hackdays, but not Railway specific ones.
So I got to work, I went to experience a 24 hour hackday for myself, where I discovered that sometimes technical issues with the building can really slow people’s progress and that working overnight doesn’t really suit me anymore!
I also bought a domain and registered a Twitter account. The hackday would be called Clickerty Hack. Then, having a good read of The Hackday Manifesto made me realise that a lot of work was required to get a decent Hackday up and running.
Loco 2 and Off The Rails
It was then that I found out about somebody else’s plans for a Railway Hackday, loco2 was a company I was already watching with interest. A startup based around European Train travel, ticketing and guides.
Their hackday, Off the Rails, was in a more advanced state than Clickerty Hack, so putting it on hold, I volunteered to help.
It was a real privilege to be able to help with a small part of the organising and for my company ShedCode to be one of the sponsors, providing some of the food for the masses!
Meeting the experts
During 2012, I’d found a number of people who had built some incredible pieces of software using Railway data, especially Peter Hicks and Tom Cairns who built, amongst other things Open Train Times and Train Times respectively. So it was brilliant to meet them in person at Off The Rails. There were also many other people knowledgeable about Railways, Open Data and Mapping - I could have spent all day just talking to people!
During the day, the teams built some inspiring things, including an application which builds spotify playlists to match the length of your train journey and many others. Most of them will hopefully be available at some point on github for perusal.