6 European startups are dragging rail networks into the future

When it comes to B2B products, it’s all about relationship building, something that can be a challenge for startups entering traditional industries like the railway sector. But in recent years, the rail industry has been reaching out to startups to give them a way to get their insights and engage them in the ecosystem.

Examples of these initiatives are those of the UK Rail Innovation Group an incubator for railway start-ups – and that of Deutsche Bahn DB Mindbox. The latter in particular has hosted hackathons since 2015 and supported more than 150 startups with their proof of concept, 60% of which continue their business partnership with DB.

Startups provide the opportunity to innovate with technology and solve problems that have plagued the transportation industry for decades, from repairs to safety, maintenance and customer experience. Here are just a few of the many startups making a difference in your daily commute:

SIUT (Germany)

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Navigating train stations is no fun in the dark. Start up Berlin SIUT turns concrete into an information and communication medium. Precast concrete elements transform through the targeted integration of optical fibers into luminous displays in train stations, airports and public spaces.

Neuron Soundware (Czech Republic)

rail escalator
Worm gearbox and thermal imaging camera register an oil leak in an escalator at a train station. Image credit: Neuron sound software

We all know when something stops working, but what if we could predict it and prevent it from happening in the first place? Neuron sound software develops predictive maintenance and remote diagnostics of equipment. It uses IoT sensors and AI to detect audio signals from machines and recognize any anomalies before they lead to mechanical failures that can lead to downtime and costly repairs. Usage scenarios range from escalators to pumps, compressors and HVAC, all of which, if malfunctioned, can cause problems on the track and delay trains and passengers.


Knowledge is power, but even if you collect it, how do you use it to guide your decision-making? TUBR leverages its predictive analytics platform to make predictions that help transportation management improve operations and the passenger experience.

The company uses physics methodology to understand the spatial motion of the entire rail system. Running regularly, the algorithm is triggered by factors that change people’s behavior, such as weather and delays, enabling rail operators to keep people moving.

Railway current (Germany)

Like many traditional industries, many rail customers rely on a manual, paper-based workflow. Track current digitizes rail freight management in purchasing and tender management. This allows customers to compare requests and create or update offers within a single platform.

OTIV (Belgium)

The future of mobility is automation — and, simply put, Otiv teaches railway vehicles to drive autonomously. It brings its AI-based intelligent driver assistance and, in the future, autonomous driving solutions to public and private railway operators. This increases network safety and rail efficiency and will solve the challenge of driver shortages and increase network capacity in the future.

automation of start-up railway companies
Otiv is building the future of autonomous trams in Zaragoza, Spain

The company currently has a joint project with rail technology company CAF in the Spanish city of Zaragoza to test collision avoidance technology and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Passengera (Czech Republic)

There’s nothing more annoying than a long train ride without reliable WiFi. Passenger has developed a hardware agnostic cloud-based solution to deliver reliable Wi-Fi and infotainment. The management system can handle up to 1,000 vehicles on train and bus networks and includes an open API that integrates with third parties for advertising, real-time information such as timetables and onboard tools.

There you have it! Six European startups dragging trains and rail networks into the future.


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