It’s Microsoft’s Hack Day competition on Saturday 11th of June, and more than 200 developers in London will be given full access to National Rail Enquiries (NRE) live departures information services to see who can develop the best app.

Last month, we reported on how SoundRain had been developed for SoundCloud at a similar hack day in San Francisco, and it went to market within a week of the event.

Hack days are designed to encourage innovation and it seems that NRE has a track record in engaging with the developer community towards developing ideas for apps, by people who see a market for obtaining a licence from NRE’s information services.

To date, NRE has agreed over 70 licences with developers to provide information about rail services, including 30 mobile phone apps.

Chris Scoggins, Chief Executive of NRE, said:

“The hack day provides a great forum for developers to work on our information services to see what new ideas they can come up with. Since we began licensing apps a few years ago, we’ve dealt with numerous individual developers who have gone on to produce highly successful programmes that are used more than a hundred thousand times a day. But we’re always open to new ideas and keen to work with developers to bring to the market good ideas for apps that will make rail travel quicker and easier for the millions of people who catch a train every day.”

In addition to NRE, hackers will also be able to access information from PayPal, Bing Maps and Huddle, so there will be the opportunity to develop some cool apps for some very big brands. And it will be interesting to see what emerges from this weekend’s hack day.