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SNCF Transilien, France’s state-owned rail network that serves a major part of the railway network both in Paris and in its region and places highly frequented by tourists such as airports as well as attractions like Chateau de Versailles and the Stade de France, is revamping how tourists use its services - and it wants help from Europe’s startups.

The number of tourists coming to Paris and its surrounding areas is growing and will be tipped to reach more than 40 million visitors by 2020. Combined with the regular increase in the number of daily commuters, this trend will put a huge strain on public transport services.

The Tourist Experience Challenge is welcoming startups from across Europe to submit their ideas and solutions.SNCF transilien

The Tourist Experience Challenge has three challenges for startups to sink their teeth into.

The first is making the rail network more accessible to non-French speaking visitors. Signs and audio announcements only go so far and when there are delays or accidents, it can be challenging to ensure that all travellers have got the important message. SNCF Transilien is interested in any startup that can bridge the gap from the rail network and its employees with tourists and visitors that need help getting around, such as real-time translation.

The second challenge is helping visitors find their way around the region, from the tourist hotspots to off-the-beaten-track attractions, by making the network more visually appealing and easier to understand. As it stands, the network was originally designed for commuters, so how can train stations be made more visitor friendly and easier to navigate, and how can maps and routes be made more efficient for busy tourists that want to get around the city as easily and quickly as possible?

Finally, startups are encouraged to bring forward their ideas for improving transport and customer experience for visitors during major events that draw large crowds. Euro 2016 is just one such event taking place in France, where millions of football supporters will descend on the city over the month-long tournament, putting pressure on public transport services.
Can your startup help in anticipating congestion at stations and help to manage waiting times for trains or effectively spread the message to train riders to warn about delays or busy stations? Or make busy trains much more comfortable to travel in?

Startups from across Europe are eligible to enter the challenge, and applications are open until November 20. Eight of the most exciting startups will then be chosen to take part in the challenge on December 8 in Paris. Selected startups will have their travel to the event covered.

The eight startups will compete in a one-day event and pitch their ideas to SNCF Transilien decision makers. Throughout the day, they will be able to avail of advice and mentorship from SNCF Transilien. Two startups will then be chosen to create a pilot and show their solution in action during Euro 2016 to build a case study with SNCF.

Click here to apply, or click here for more information

Featured image credit: Hans Engbers / Shutterstock