North East Connected

Ripon Grammar pupil wins award for carbon tracking rail app design

YEAR 7 student David Fernandes has won national recognition for a smart app he designed to help rail travellers track and reduce their carbon footprints.

The 12-year-old boarding student from outside York was awarded a Faraday Challenge prize for his idea, aimed at helping Network Rail minimise its impact on the environment.

“This was a great opportunity to research and better understand how science can help us solve some of the biggest challenges we face,” he said.

David’s ZeroCO2 Train smart app uses three steps – travel, calculate and offset – to automatically calculate a consumer’s train travel data and provide them with options to offset their carbon emission.

His presentation in the 11-15 years category in the Virtual Faraday Challenge, which encourages the development of young people’s problem solving and communication skills, impressed competition organisers.

Judged by experts from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the panel commented that David’s project went beyond the initial idea of a physical product: “The idea of the app is so good and so well-researched it deserves to win a prize.”

Entrants were asked to produce a design and demonstrate the engineering skills required to think of a solution to this year’s task: helping Network Rail sustainably manage the increasing numbers of passengers using their network and minimise their impact on the environment.

“Like many of my friends, I am keen to do my bit to help the environment. While aware that train travel is the most environmentally friendly way of travelling, I am concerned that having the technology to operate zero carbon trains is still decades away,” said David, who aims to study medicine when he leaves RGS.

Keen to use technology that could have a direct impact on train travel and help the global challenge of holding global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, he said he wanted to encourage consumers to use trains as their main form of transport but also empower them to do their bit to help the environment in order to achieve a zero-carbon train travel journey.

His proposed secure app allows commuters to use their e-train ticket (or scan their paper-based ticket) to be automatically validated at the start of each journey. The app will show the customer the total carbon produced for each journey, also cumulative monthly journeys as well and annual projections based on their travel profile.

Customers can then offset their carbon footprint by supporting a range of UK based carbon offset projects, ranging from solar power to tree plantations that the app would recommend.

“The most valuable part of designing ZeroCO2 Train was to show that technology can help us tackle climate change”, David concluded.

*The Virtual Faraday Challenge competition, aimed at bringing together STEM (science, design and technology, engineering and maths) subjects in an engaging way, is open until Thursday July 1, with all high-scoring entries up until then receiving a certificate and £10 voucher prize every month. For more information, visit

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