Fast Track Innovation

Are you a start-up or scale up with an innovative solution that could transform the rail industry?

Apply now

Future Labs is a joint initiative from UK train operators; London North Eastern Railway, Transpennine Express, Northern Trains and Southeastern

This first of a kind in UK rail programme gives you the opportunity to learn from industry experts from across all four operators, test your innovative ideas and products in a real rail environment and with feedback direct from potential future clients in the rail industry.

You will be given the chance to become embedded in rail for a 12-week programme of activities which will give you unique insight and mentorship. 

Future Labs enables these four cornerstone UK rail companies to drive innovation in their operations and for the wider industry.
These partners identify and sponsor themes for the programme to discover emerging technologies and innovative solutions to help them with their challenges. 

Enhancing Customer Experience 

Customer satisfaction and inclusivity is a key driver of the Future Labs collaboration. All four rail operators are dedicated to enhancing the onboard and station experience for their customers. We seek solutions that offer real-time data on disruptions and facilitate fast access to necessary information for customers through their preferred communication channels.

We are looking for solutions that can also improve accessibility for passengers with hidden disabilities as well as solutions that can improve passenger safety. Finally, we are looking for startups and scaleups that can use predictive analytics or feedback mechanisms to understand the demand for services onboard the trains to optimise resources and ensure that passengers have a better experience.

Performance and Operational Excellence

Future Labs is dedicated to fostering innovation and is actively seeking transformative solutions to enhance and complement operational performance and back-office processes to give staff the tools they need to achieve operational excellence.

We are seeking startups and scale-ups capable of providing solutions to streamline communication, enhance information sharing, assist with predictive resource planning, utilise real-time data for decision-making, and improve performance.

This entails offering crucial insights and predictive analytics models to automate reporting and forecast potential issues.

Developing People & Talent

Future Labs understands the importance of attracting and retaining talent. We seek solutions for strategic resource planning that can analyse labour trends, forecast future needs, and identify skill gaps.

Additionally, we are interested in solutions that promote diversity across the varied roles within rail and attract the next generation of talent. Furthermore, we want to ensure our staff feel supported and valued by exploring solutions that can help with talent development, staff engagement, wellness and personal development.

Finally, we are looking to streamline the employee onboarding process by looking for technology that can help provide a more efficient and engaging onboarding and training experience.  


Future Labs is open to learning and to be surprised by what new technologies and different approaches can do for them and their customers. This category is truly open. Surprise us with ideas that you think could make a difference.


29th Apr Applications Open
16th Jun Applications Close
6th Aug Pitch Day
16th Sep – 6th Dec Programme Live
5th Dec Demo Day