Engineering Spotlight: SilverRail Technologies
SilverRail Technology is building the digital infrastructure for the global rails industry, which has made the process of booking rail travel as easy as booking a flight.
SilverRail is a global company with offices in London, Woburn, Brisbane, Stockholm, and Montreal. Their platform handles more than 1 billion online rail searches each year and processes more than 25 million bookings each year. Last June, Expedia acquired a majority stake in the company.
We connected with SilverRail’s Vice President of Engineering Andrew Miller to learn about their platform and the technology behind it. Miller shared what members of their engineering team are working on, and also what they like to do for fun outside of the SilverRail offices.
Also, SilverRail is hiring! Check out the company’s BIZZpage for all of their openings!
Quick Hit Details
- Year Founded: 2009
- Number of employees: 250 (though half of our employees are in our independent Linkon division)
- Number of engineers: 40 and growing to 70 within our Core and Search division
- Industry: Travel Technology
Can you share the details on what SilverRail does?
SilverRail delivers the digital infrastructure that is opening up rail travel around the world. We do this by delivering SaaS solutions that enable Rail Carriers to better interact and communicate with their customers, both directly and indirectly.
Our technology has been purpose-built for rail and is dedicated to improving the full customer lifecycle, including journey planning, inventory management, scheduling, pricing, booking, payment, ticketing, reporting, and administration.
SilverCore is our key product; the manifestation of this expertise. It is the world’s first unified platform for global rail, connecting rail carriers with the worldwide ecosystem of travel distributors and managers through the implementation of simple, cost-effective, and innovative technology. Access to SilverCore is via a single API which is designed to greatly reduce the complexity involved in selling rail by providing a single, integrated service for shopping, booking, and purchasing tickets.
SilverRail works with distributors like Expedia, helping them to access and sell rail in over eight countries, and with carriers themselves, enabling them to manage their retail operations, and ultimately, own their customer experience.
SilverRail has become one of the most important rail technology providers globally – working with companies like SNCF, Rail Europe, Rome2rio, Expedia, National Rail Enquiries, Egencia, Stagecoach, and Transport for Greater Manchester.
SilverRail is a global company with multiple offices. Can you share provide some information on what teams and functions are based out of the Woburn office?
Our growing team of travel and eCommerce experts, mathematicians, and software engineers works out of offices in London, Boston (Woburn), Brisbane, Stockholm, and Montreal.
Our office outside of Boston is the development center for SilverCore - the world’s first unified platform for global rail distribution, connecting carriers and suppliers to both online and offline travel distributors, and SilverAgent - our rail booking tool for travel professionals.
Both product and engineering teams for these two products are based at our Woburn office.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
Our core foundation is Java/Tomcat moving to Spring Boot. As a global company serving a global market, we leverage high-availability services from AWS like Aurora and are focused on the adoption of other services like Kinesis, Lambda and Kubernetes containers as we continue to scale out our microservice architecture.
SilverRail handles more than 1 billion online rail searches every year.
SilverRail distributes tickets for more than 35 transport providers and carriers.
SilverRail processes more than 25 million bookings each year.
SilverRail serves more than 1,500 corporate customers worldwide.
What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?
We’re heavily investing in the scalability of our platform through initiatives ranging from a highly automated CI/CD pipeline to an evolution of our architecture leveraging containers and serverless microservices. We’re doing this while we’re expanding the markets that we serve to the full customer lifecycle ranging from lighting fast journey planning all the way to ticket printing and administration.
How would you best describe the culture and working environment for the engineering team at SilverRail?
Inclusive, collaborative, active, challenging, and fun! We have a very close-knit team with a dare to think big mentality. Quality is very important and our people are held to high standards. Our developers get together on a bi-weekly basis to discuss new technologies, seminars they’ve attended, or just brainstorm ideas on what we could be doing. We have a rec room with lots of toys: board games, video games, and ping-pong. Lunch is often accompanied by a soccer game on the big screen, trash-talking from the fantasy football league, or a lively discussion about what’s going on in the world.
What can someone expect during the interview process?
We want to find people who will help SilverRail change the future of rail travel. But equally, we want people to find the right place for them to learn and grow. We’ll do a technical phone interview to get a better sense of your skills followed by a short online coding exercise. Then, you’ll come in to meet with our engineers for a design review, and have a conversation with us about your experience. You’ll ask us questions about how we work and what we can do for you and your career.
What does your team do for fun outside of work?
One of our core values is “We enjoy life” and we like to encourage our team to experience life outside the office. Our team has many interesting hobbies! We have marathon runners, amazing chefs and bakers, talented photographers, avid travelers, and competitive board game players! Another common interest that gets the team buzzing, is our Fantasy Football league.
Are there any other random fun facts that you’d like to share?
At SilverRail, we like a little friendly competition, and so our Activities Committee is always coming up with new challenges for the office - from Cook-Offs, to Ping Pong, Office Olympics, or to our Fantasy Football league tournaments. We love a reason to have more trophies around the office! Oh, and of course, we always love an excuse to have cupcakes!
An interesting fact about our CEO and Co-Founder, Aaron Gowell - one that not many people know about - is that prior to founding the company, he participated in the lowest-recorded combat parachute jump in military history: from 300 feet, at night, into enemy fire. It was this determination and willingness to jump into unknown territory, that inspired Aaron to take on the mission to bring rail travel into the 21st century.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What’s on tap?
Coffee and sometimes Whisky and Tequila!
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars. We’re all gearing up for a private opening day viewing of The Last Jedi as a team!
iPhone or Android?
Android… no iPhone...no Android! Although we all love our new Apple laptops!
Coffee - hot or iced?
Favorite employee perk?
It’s a toss-up between the company's emphasis on true work/life balance through flexible working and the amazing travel opportunities. With offices in Boston, Brisbane, London, Sweden and Montreal, we really do get the opportunity to travel to some of the best places in the world. And because the company still feels and operates like a small company - although we are actually getting pretty big with 250+ employees - they are great at bringing together everyone across the offices, giving you amazing opportunities to travel, true global collaboration, and great exposure across all the business functions.
What music is playing in your office?
Everything and anything. It all depends on who is playing DJ in our break room!
View from your office:
”My co-workers at SilverRail are as friendly as they smart — it's really easy and thankfully pleasant to discuss technology with all of them. We work together to "figure things out," considering industry and software best practices and employing them when appropriate, but also challenging them, recognizing when they don't apply and thinking creatively to chart what will work best for us. The willingness by the organization to let us as a team think outside traditional lines keeps the imagination spinning — with motivation, satisfaction, and (perhaps most importantly) better solutions as byproducts.”
"Fresh out of college, SilverRail was the perfect place for me to start my career as an engineer because of the welcoming atmosphere and an excellent mentoring program. My favorite aspect of working here is the startup nature of working in a small company; even as a junior developer, you get to have a major impact on the business both by completing important projects as well as interfacing regularly with management to brainstorm solutions.”
Director of Engineering
“At SilverRail, we build software solutions that will revolutionize people’s rail travel experience. The problems we’re trying to solve are hard yet fun. We have an innovative and collaborative engineering culture – we enjoy bouncing off ideas and learning from each other, and are always pursuing engineering excellence. We work hard and play hard – the office is abuzz with activities: ping pong tournament, Office Olympics, summer outings, you name it!”
Pictures provided by SilverRail Technologies.