Rail Director March 2024

Page 52


Toufic Machnouk

The next generation railway

Shamit Gaiger

Keeping relevant to the customer


Andy Burnham

Transforming rail in the North

Rajinder Pryor MBE

The journey to inspire inclusion


A vision for the future







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Transformational change

Welcome to the latest Rail Director. “We are moving towards a more modern and financially secure rail network that delivers for passengers and freight users”. That was the message from Transport Secretary Mark Harper on the news that the draft Rail Reform Bill has been published. It sets in motion the plan for punctual and reliable services, simpler tickets, and a modern and innovative railway.

It is part of the transformational change that the railways in the UK are currently going through. Although we are having to wait a little longer for reform, something that is happening as we speak is the change to signalling, which coincidentally is also the theme of this month’s magazine.

The network has been reliant on trackside signals to control the safe movement of trains, but the East Coast Digital Programme will see the introduction of in-cab digital signalling on the southern part of the East Coast Main Line, between London King’s Cross and Grantham, delivering more reliability, more punctual services, and greener journeys.

This month Rail Director features Rob Morris, the Managing Director of Rail Infrastructure at Siemens Mobility in the UK & Ireland on the front cover. It has been a fascinating month for the business, which among other things announced an investment of £100 million to establish a cutting-edge rail infrastructure manufacturing, digital engineering and research & development centre in Chippenham.

It was also a delight to speak with Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail’s Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, about the masterplan to introduce digital signalling and how a new way of working is helping the plan succeed. As he explains in the feature, industry partnership isn’t just to sound fashionable. “We are the conductor of an orchestra, but the music is being played by all the others involved in the partnership,” he said.

Moving away from signalling and I’d like to reflect on the recent International Women’s Day, which the rail industry has marked by highlighting some of the incredible women who are playing a vital role in the railways. It feels very apt that in this edition, we feature the inspirational Rajinder Pryor, Shamit Gaiger and Zoe Sookun. The latter has recently been awarded a British Empire Medal for her work in project managing the delivery of the Rail Aid for Ukraine project.

The industry is on many exciting journeys at the minute, and another one of those is the collective drive to build a diverse railway family which represents our communities and evolving society. Providing that platform for fostering an inclusive and supportive culture is the Railway Industry Association and Women in Rail EDI Charter. It is more than three years since it was launched with backing from more than 220 organisations. Current Vice Chair Ben Evans has taken time to speak with the magazine about what the future has in store and what the industry can do.

A big thank you to everyone who has played their part in the latest Rail Director. Work is well underway on April’s edition, which will be themed around sustainability and the environment.

All the best,

The industry is on many exciting journeys at the minute

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10 Putting the politicians under the spotlight about the railways

Rail Partners’ Andy Bagnall has used the annual George Bradshaw Address to urge the main parties to get the ‘best of both worlds’, from the public and private sectors, to ensure a growing railway

12 The journey for the next generation railway

Toufic Machnouk discusses the masterplan to introduce digital signalling and how a new way of working in helping the plan succeed

22 “It was more than a project; it was a personal mission”

Zoe Sookun has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her work in project managing the delivery of the Rail Aid for Ukraine project


A plan for the future of the railways

Transport Secretary Mark Harper says we are moving towards a more modern and financially secure rail network that delivers for passengers following the publishing of a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny

26 Transforming rail in the North

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says that out of the ashes of last year, with HS2 Phase 2a being cancelled, they have started to piece something back together

32 SIGEX makes a welcome return

The Railway Industry Association has taken over hosting the annual SIGEX Control, Command and Signalling Exhibition. Nigel Wordsworth reflects on the 2023 event

36 Shamit Gaiger

The newly appointed President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) for the Railway Study Forum calls on the rail industry to remain relevant by focusing on the customer

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36 24 26 CONTENTS 4

44 The journey to inspire inclusion

Rajinder Pryor MBE writes about why it’s so important for women to continue to maintain visibility in the railway industry across all levels and support others in their careers


Driving the next chapter for the EDI Charter

Ben Evans explains his involvement in the EDI Charter and the journey ahead in creating industry change


On track for the future

Kennedy Hamilton, Survey Manager at QTS Group, writes about how embracing rail digitalisation methods will improve rail survey efficiencies


RISE up for leading industry awards

The fifth RIA Dinner and Railway Industry Supply Excellence Awards is open for booking and entries. The deadline to enter the awards is approaching

78 Your member portal One Place

RBD Community Content Editor Fiona Broomfield takes you on a deep dive inside One Place

80 Buyer’s Guide



“Every reason to feel cautiously optimistic about 2024”

Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster has been appointed Managing Director of Severn Valley Railway. He reflects on his career and his aims for the heritage railway

Seize the opportunity to grow passenger rail

New research predicts that rail passenger numbers could double by 2050 compared with the pre-pandemic peak

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Reproduction of the contents of this magazine in any manner whatsoever is prohibited without prior consent from the publisher. For subscription enquiries and to make sure you get your copy of Rail Director please ring 01132 082620 or email info@railbusinessdaily.com. The views expressed in the articles reflect the author’s opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher and editor. The published material, adverts, editorials and all other content is published in good faith.

Untitled-61 4 18/03/2024 10:29 March 2024 42 railbusinessdaily.com
A vision for the future March 2024 EXCLUSIVELY FOR RAIL INDUSTRY LEADERS Toufic Machnouk The next generation railway Shamit Gaiger Keeping relevant to the customer Andy Burnham Transforming rail in the North Rajinder Pryor MBE The journey to inspire inclusion ONSPOTLIGHT SIGNALLING
Image: Siemens Mobility

Rob Morris, joint CEO of Siemens Mobility in the UK, spoke with Rail Director shortly before announcing a vital new investment

A vision for the future

Siemens has been a major force in the UK economy for 160 years and a supplier to the UK railway industry for almost a century.

Sir William Siemens, who took over the Siemens & Halske agency in London in 1850, married a Scottish lady in 1859, took British nationality and changed his name from Carl Wilhelm to Charles William. He opened what became the Siemens Brothers Telegraph Works in Woolwich, London in 1863. It manufactured insulated cables and, in 1869, the UK company worked with the Berlin firm run by William’s elder brother Werner to manufacture and lay a telegraph cable from Prussia to Tehran that later became part of the direct cable from London to India.

Further international cables followed, including the direct Atlantic cable of 1874-5 that was made solely by the UK company. By the start of World War I in 1914, Siemens UK employed 10,000 people,

more than the sister company in Germany.

Siemens and the General Electric Railway Signal Company combined their railway signalling activities in 1926. The company changed hands during the Second World War, with first AEI (Associated Electrical Industries) and then GEC (General Electric Company) taking control.

Twenty years later, in 1989, Siemens, jointly with GEC, acquired the UK defence and technology company Plessey. The assets were split, with Siemens taking over the avionics, radar, and traffic control businesses as Siemens Plessey.

Early in the new millennium, Siemens supplied three classes of trains to the UK market. Slam-door rolling stock had to be replaced, and as a result Siemens manufactured 45 Class 444 units in Vienna and 127 Class 450 as well as 26 Class 360 trains in Krefeld, Germany, for South West Trains and First Great Eastern.

In the infrastructure market, Siemens acquired Transmitton in 2005, a company based in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, that specialised in integrated controls and asset management systems for the rail, oil, gas, and process industries. It later purchased the railway signalling and automation business Invensys Rail for £1.742 billion in 2012.

Creating Siemens Mobility

The Siemens Mobility division was created in October 2018, with the whole Siemens group now split into three semi-autonomous divisions. This move was partly due to the planned merger with Alstom, allowing Siemens to own 50 per cent of the new combined company without it affecting other corporate operations.

When the Alstom merger fell through in February 2019, due to the European Commission deciding “to prohibit the proposed acquisition of Alstom

SIGNALLING 6 March 2024
Image: Siemens Mobility

by Siemens due to very significant overlaps in the companies’ activities in the fields of railway signalling and very high-speed trains and the risk of creating a dominant player in these markets”, Siemens Mobility continued to operate independently in Germany, the UK and elsewhere.

In the UK, Siemens Mobility is organised functionally into rolling stock and customer services, and infrastructure and software operations. Both have been successful, with signalling installed on the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) and elsewhere and a fleet of new trains delivered for Thameslink and other lines, although these were all made in Germany.

Major investments

Two major investment announcements have been made in recent years, expanding Siemens Mobility’s operations in the UK. A contract from London Underground for a fleet of new trains for the Piccadilly line would partly be built in the UK, in a brand-new factory at Goole in East Yorkshire costing £200 million. The first half of the 94 trains on order were to be built in Vienna, with the remainder to be assembled in Goole. That plan has now been amended so that only 20 per cent of the order will be made in Austria, with 80 per cent built in Yorkshire. Hopefully, more orders will follow for the Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines, for which Transport for London (TfL) has options under the existing contract, and the factory will also build main line trains for the UK and export.

In March 2024, it was the turn of the infrastructure division to receive significant investment to build a new factory. Rob Morris, who is also Managing Director for the Rail Infrastructure and Software business units in the UK & Ireland, welcomed guests including HM Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt to the Chippenham factory to announce that a completely new factory and research & development centre is to be built two miles away from the existing factory.

The new facility will be much more suitable for today’s manufacturing operations than the existing site, which has been gradually altered and modified over the decades since it was first opened in 1897 and then extended by the Westinghouse Brake & Saxby Signal Company in 1920. All 800 of the company’s employees will move to the new factory in 2026.

Rob Morris, who runs the Siemens Mobility UKI operation jointly with rolling stock Managing Director Sambit Banerjee, was very pleased to make this announcement.

“This investment not only secures future employment here in Chippenham, but also ensures our workforce’s expertise and skills are preserved for the benefit of Britain and the rail industry,” he said. It was a very proud moment for him and his team.

Early years

Rob Morris joined Siemens Rail Automation, as it was then known, as Director of Operations in January 2015 and became Managing Director in December 2017.

Before that, he started off in mining research and development, later building coal processing plants and then power stations. He had some contact with

the rail industry, getting involved with automatic vehicle identification for trains in the transport of coal and with train loading facilities, but his main activity became major project management, including building five power stations in the Middle East and repowering Guernsey.

Later, he swapped power stations for combined heat and power plants, both in the UK and, working with a Finnish company, around the Baltic rim.

His success meant that he was handed the problem contracts. One particularly, in Poland, was in dire straits with issues with financing and banks, a consortium partner in bankruptcy, and a number of other major issues. “But that project was totally transformed, and we ended up delivering a profit for the organisation and a happy client, EDF,” Rob recalled.

That success brought him to the notice of Balfour Beatty, and he then spent 10 years working on a variety of projects including the Aquatic Centre for the London Olympics, a number of road and rail bridges in the Olympic Park and Heathrow Terminal 2B. He finished off as Managing Director of the power and energy business, tackling the challenges of nuclear decommissioning, energy from waste and new nuclear construction.

“I’ve been really fortunate and had quite an eclectic career. I’ve been involved in loads of different cultures, loads of different people. And it has always been about people; people are what make it happen,” Rob added.

After a ‘seduction’ process that lasted for almost a year, Rob joined Siemens Mobility in January 2015, and has been having a ball ever since.

Great opportunity

“It was a marvellous opportunity for me, to bring my eclectic experience, to challenge the way things were done – the old way of doing things, if you like – with the backing of Siemens,” he explained. “It’s been really enjoyable and I’m just as excited about it

This investment ensures our workforce’s expertise and skills are preserved for the benefit of Britain and the rail industry
SIGNALLING 7 March 2024
Image: Nigel Wordsworth
It has always been about people; people are what make it happen

today as I was then. Each day brings fresh and interesting challenges – it really does! We have R&D, product design and manufacture. We do our own systems architecture here. We do our own detailed design. We’ve got civil engineering capability and a civil engineering team. We’ve got our own installation team. So, there’s mechanical engineers and the like, as well as, obviously, our testing fraternity. And we do customer services and obsolescence management, which feeds back into the R&D side. So, we cover the whole life cycle, all in the UK.

“And it would be wrong for me not to touch on other things we do. We do trackside power and overhead line equipment. We do mobile communications. The in-cab radios in all the rolling stock are ours. We have a software business, we do station management and control, and first mile/last mile stuff. We have the skills to do all of that.”

Rob has called upon all of his project management experience to deliver major projects such as the signalling of the Elizabeth line. It used a mix of Chippenham-based technology for the interlocking and technology from Siemens Mobility’s Braunschweig facility for the central tunnel control system – a CBTC (computer-based train control) system that connects with/transitions to the other signalling systems on the Great Eastern and Great Western main lines. The technology was developed jointly between Chippenham and Braunschweig, with the former primarily focused on testing, integration and delivery.

Alongside this, all the Customer Information Systems across the stations and in the central core were designed and installed from the UK, led by the Ashby factory. That needed collaboration across different Siemens teams and with the client and other contractors. Incidentally, Ashby is also delivering the Stations Framework contract for HS2.

“Collaboration is so often an overused word,” said Rob. “My view on collaboration is it’s not about politeness. People often confuse politeness with being collaborative. I think it’s right to be professional,

but politeness can be the poison for collaboration, because things get hidden, withheld, or suppressed – we don’t want to spook the client, don’t want to spook colleagues, don’t want to do this. For me, true collaboration is around tough love. It’s around getting the issues on the table and working out what we can solve together, and how we can best do it, so we’ve got that common alignment. Or, what can we not sort out, so we just have to learn to live with it and find a way to do that. I think, when you’ve got that sort of collaboration, you really get the best out of it.”

With the Elizabeth line now in service, Siemens Mobility’s delivery teams have moved onto the East Coast main line (ECML) where they are delivering in-cab signalling (ETCS – the European Train Control System) from London to the Stoke tunnels, near Grantham in Lincolnshire.

The ETCS system on the ECML owes more to the signalling on Thameslink, delivered by Siemens in 2018, than to the signalling of the Elizabeth line. Although not the first ETCS Level 2 system in the UK – that was the Cambrian line in 2011 – Thameslink was the first in the world to use an Automatic Train Operation (ATO) overlay, capable of driving the Siemens Class 700 trains automatically between stations and stopping precisely at a fixed point.

Indeed, some Thameslink trains run through the Canal tunnels at St Pancras and onto the East Coast main line north of King’s Cross. The trains run on ETCS with the ATO overlay up until those tunnels, then switch it all off as they enter the ECML and revert to conventional signalling.

“Of course, East Coast main line was the natural progression from Thameslink,” Rob explained. “But there are so many other things with the East Coast main line. It was up for renewal anyway. As you know, over the next three or four control periods, 60-odd per cent of our signalling assets will expire. So, big applause to Network Rail, to do that investment on the East Coast main line, because it really is transformational – not just in renewal, but in the transformation needed in the industry to allow it to happen.”

Looking to the future

ETCS is now operational, as an overlay on the traditional signalling, on the Northern City line between Moorgate and Finsbury Park, operating with the Siemens Class 717 trains. The next tranche (Welwyn Garden City to Hitchin) will also be an overlay, and there is a cost attached to having the two systems – digital and conventional – running alongside each other.

“Ultimately, as you get to tranche four, the next level up, which is from 2027, you don’t get the overlay, you have pure ETCS,” Rob explained. By then, all of the passenger and freight trains that use the line, and even the maintenance trains, will have ETCS equipment fitted. So the system will become simpler, and less expensive, as the programme proceeds.

To conclude, Rob Morris considered the future: “One of the opportunities that we’ve got is in the way we procure in this country. We tend to procure on a subsystem basis or a system basis, and very rarely do we look at the whole system.

“Now, we’re in a fortunate position, which we’ve invested in here in the UK and globally, that we can look at the whole system. So, we can look at the signalling requirements and the performance that’s required. We know the rolling stock, we know how best to power that rolling stock, we can work out the whole system in terms of what’s the right thing to do from a sustainability perspective. What power mode do we have on that train? How do we energise the line? Do we part-energise it? Do we bring in hydrogen? Do we use online chargers just before a station and just after a station?

“We can model everything from electrification and power requirements. And, of course, we understand timetabling now, through what we do in traffic management. We’ve got the ability to look at the whole system and, for me, it’s around how do we take East Coast main line, or any line, to the next level?”

The Government wants to bring track and train closer together. That sounds very much like Rob Morris’ vision of the future as well…

SIGNALLING 8 March 2024
Image: Nigel Wordsworth

Rail Partners’ Andy Bagnall has used the annual George Bradshaw Address to urge the main parties to get the ‘best of both worlds’, from the public and private sectors, to ensure a growing railway

Putting the politicians under the spotlight about the railways

While for the majority of the voters in the upcoming general election rail policy might not be a top-order issue, or a vote clincher, this election really matters for the railway. That was the message at the Annual George Bradshaw Address in which Rail Partners’ Chief Executive Andy Bagnall told attendees that currently, Government micromanagement of the railway is contributing to poorer outcomes – and that reform is needed to attract passengers back and balance the books.

Ahead of speeches by Rail and HS2 Minister Huw Merriman, and Shadow Rail Minister Stephen Morgan, Andy said: “Whoever forms the next Government will find rail reform sitting in their in-tray and the choices they make will shape the railway for generations to come. This is an industry up for change, crying out for it, but to change for the better we have to correctly diagnose the causes of the pretty significant challenges we are facing in order to then prescribe the right solution.

“We believe it is possible to get the best of both worlds to deliver for passengers and freight customers – a new public body to oversee the railways so customers know who is in charge, but harnessing the innovation and investment of private sector operators to attract customers, grow revenue to balance the books, and free up money for other national priorities. We also need a stable environment for

freight operators, to enable them to grow and help decarbonise supply chains.”

At the event, the trade body, which represents rail operator owning groups and freight operating companies, warned that Government overinvolvement in the railway leads to poorer outcomes.

In front of 200 rail industry leaders, the Rail and HS2 Minister used his speech to set out the Government’s vision for the railway focusing on three aspects; how the railway has grown since privatisation, how the Government has supported the railway since COVID, and how it will use these twin pillars to further reform and renew the railway.

He said: “By offering you a plan to harness the best of the private and public sector to build modern railways which will be run by a private sector with a proven track record of growing passenger numbers and freight, we will put decision making in the hands of Great British Rail to integrate track and train, we will not build an unaffordable state bureaucracy run for the benefit of vested interested and trade unions.”

In response, Stephen Morgan said: “Our railway system, once the envy of the world, is now in crisis and is not living up to the huge potential to deliver for our economy. Urgent and major reform is needed, and I promise you that with the next Labour Government, it is coming. We will put our railways back on track to sustainable growth and improvement and we will deliver for passengers again.”

The George Bradshaw Address ‘election special’ took place at One Great George Street in London on the day that the Government published its draft Rail Reform Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. Opposing views were expressed during the speeches, but there was agreement on the importance of rail reform, as well as the fact that there is a lot of technology not being harnessed and that the experience of passengers could be better. Following these speeches, the floor was open to questions.

Concluding the event, Andy Bagnall said: “While perhaps rail doesn’t matter to the electorate, the election really matters to rail, and I think that’s been really borne out this evening with what we’ve heard from both speakers and also from the audience.

“There are some big challenges we’re facing and some significant differences between parties as to how to solve them and I think it’s worth saying whoever ends up in Great Minster House following the election has a responsibility to set the railway up for success, not for its own sake but for the wider economic and environmental benefits that it delivers for the country.

“People in this room believe in the railway and the industry will work with whoever is in government to implement solutions in the best interests of our customers, passengers, and freight customers and I urge you to be cognizant of the skills and the experience in all parts of the railway and you need that to set the industry on track for growth.”

10 March 2024 UK RAIL NEWS
Pictured at the George Bradshaw Address Rail Partners’ Andy Bagnall (left), Rail and HS2 Minister Huw Merriman and Sky News’ Tamara Cohen (top right) and Shadow Rail Minister Stephen Morgan (bottom right). Images: Rail Partners

Does my insurance broker need to be a rail specialist?

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For example, railway infrastructure companies’ staff routinely carry detonators. As they activate under pressure, they are very difficult to set off accidentally. Insurance brokers that

do little in the rail industry would not understand this and would not think to ask about them. Yet a standard market exclusion on Employers’ Liability policies is an Explosives Exclusion, which may well cause problems if an injury claim arose from their use or misuse.

There are other issues such as bespoke contractual indemnities in the rail industry to be considered and catered for within the insurance programme.

We have seen a trend for railway companies, which are mainly design and consultancy companies, to be sold cheap office policies by general commercial insurance brokers which auto-provide Employers’ and Public Liability as part of the package. Fine for only desk-based activities, the policies

are not designed to cater for rail side exposure at all. For companies whose staff do not carry out any manual work, but will go trackside i.e. for lineside surveys, there would be no cover for injury claims for those technical professionals.

The Insurance Act 2015 was designed to make insurance clearer

and fairer by clarifying rules relating to a client’s relationship with their insurer. The policyholder must provide full disclosure of all material facts as a fair presentation of the risk for the underwriter. So, there is an onus on the insurance broker to ask all the right questions, fully understand the risk, and ensure their client knows the importance of disclosure.

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Network Rail’s Toufi c Machnouk discusses the masterplan to introduce digital signalling and how a new way of working is helping the plan succeed

The journey for the next generation railway

or the UK railway, the question challenging the industry has been how to transition such a distributed operation that has worked a certain way for decades to operate with digital signalling across tens of organisations.

The scale of signalling infrastructure renewals over the next decades is immense, so it is necessary for digital signalling deployment to align with line of route renewals - which, in turn, will ensure that the transition aligns with capital investment. It is also vital that every organisation that operates on the railway today is part of the change.

creates a marriage of operations and engineering to mature and evolve user and technical requirements,” said Network Rail’s Toufic Machnouk. “This means creating a way by which those who run the railway today and those who will implement systems can work closely together.

The end goal is the delivery of communicating directly into the cab of a train which will give the driver a 20-mile view ahead, rather than a few hundred metres. It provides speed protection and continuous real-time updates which create a tight tolerance, high-performance railway that is more capable, more flexible, more resilient, and even safer.

“To change the way the railway operates we need a usercentric approach that

“The delivery of operational technology systems necessitates different commercial models with technology suppliers focused on outcomes, the whole life performance of the system, embedded teams, and incentives to maximise benefits, productivity and minimise disruption.”

As Network Rail’s Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, Toufic is on a mission to create the next generation railway through a pioneering industry partnership, driven by the belief that if we sit and wait for the solutions to come then we’re going to be waiting a long time.

which those who run the railway today and delivery operational systems commercial suppliers whole system, embedded waiting reminds

“I have a sticker that I show colleagues that says ‘no one else is coming’, and it reminds them they have it within themselves to find solutions to the complex problems they are

SIGNALLING 12 March 2024

dealing with,” he said. “By thinking fundamentally about things, building a vision and creating an environment that bridges boundaries, we have unleashed a huge amount of passion and talent in the rail industry which is helping us to overcome the most complex of issues.”

Progress is being made through a pioneering industry partnership, which has brought operators, Government, and suppliers together like never before. The partnership has established a new industry change framework for major investments by integrating sponsorship, delivery and change under a unified accountability. The outcome is that the industry now has a multi-billion-pound digital signalling portfolio built around the model involving every entity that is impacted by it.

“Industry partnership model isn’t just to sound fashionable,” said Toufic. “In the absence of any legislation telling people they must do something, it is vital to have that tight partnership to overcome the misalignments, disincentives, and hurdles that our fragmented industry has.

“We’re creating extraordinary systems and models that are bringing people together in an open boundary environment. Network Rail isn’t the chief client, it is the integrator, and the ability to lead is highly dependent on our credibility and our ability to bring people together. We are the conductor of an orchestra, but the music is being played by all the others involved in the partnership including key parts of Network Rail, like the operational route.”

The masterplan

Last year it was agreed that the digital railway portfolio should be a track and train cross-industry enterprise and that it should be funded as such, leading to integrated funding for the first time, with the industry partnership holding all the funding to deliver a digital railway masterplan.

For Control Period 7 (CP7) the partnership has the funding in addition to the East Coast Digital Programme to progress passenger and fleet activities that support multiple future schemes, the continuation of the national freight programme and running a national industry portfolio. It allows for capability to be built over the next five to 10 years to get to the point where there are multiple lines of routes doing European Train Control System (ETCS) deployment.

“Two decades ago, digital was an intention, it then became a strategy and something we thought we were just going to instruct different parts of the industry to do, and then it became various forms of a national project,” said Toufic. “To have this big project roll out 20,000 miles of signalling for billions and billions of pounds just wasn’t viable with it being so complex. As a result of our approach in recent years, we are now in a position of having clarity on how to progressively go about this and the capabilities and resources required to do it.”

This comes in the form of a newly created digital railway masterplan, which outlines the way in which the industry organises the capabilities required to


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realise the benefits of digital signalling. It is split into five phases:

Phase 1 – Pilot – In 2011 Network Rail implemented a pilot ETCS level 2 project without lineside signalling on the Cambrian Line, in mid-Wales. Sub-pilots on the Crossrail and Thameslink projects followed which enabled the market to gain UK experience of the delivery of ETCS.

Phase 2 – Pathfinder – Last year digitally signalled passenger services on Great Northern’s Northern City Line (NCL) commenced. The NCL project has proved the delivery and commercial model and highlighted areas of development.

state of progressive route-based digital signalling renewals within a capable industry and marketplace that continues to learn and mature. At this point, digital signalling ceases to be a novel enterprise.

Toufic said: “The masterplan is going from the intent of ‘we need to do this’ and a PowerPoint slide about why we need to do it, to a point in the future where it just becomes the way we do things. It all comes together in this five-phase masterplan which for the first time has articulated the capability building strategy with clarity which is vital to be successful with a novel initiative in the complex environment.”

Train Control Systems Framework

We’re creating extraordinary systems and models that are bringing people together in an open boundary environment

Phase 3 – Pioneer – The introduction of in-cab digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line (ECML), between London Kings Cross and Grantham. This phase is a leap into a multioperator environment, which won’t just improve the ECML, but gets the operators, and the entire marketplace, training themselves and building the capability for validated, certified, approved ETCS operations.

Phase 4 – Portfolio – Building the industry capability for multiple route-based deployment from 2024 to 2034. The objective is to provide strategic clarity and delivery of initiatives and national projects to enable multiple route-based digital signalling renewal schemes to commence.

Phase 5 – Paradigm – The indefinite embedded

Network Rail is establishing a national Train Control Systems Framework (TCSF) for the delivery of major train control works and renewals to be delivered on the existing rail network over the next 10 years.

The aim is to create long-term, national collaborative relationships, while at the same time lowering the barriers and the investment required for suppliers to enter the market and ensuring a more certain visibility of pipeline and commitment. Suppliers have needed to demonstrate their commitment to working with each other in order to win a place on the framework.

“Over the last year we’ve procured the national framework which will go through its establishment in the next few months, and then in the background, we are building mechanisms and forums within Network Rail on how we then interact with those multi original equipment manufacturer relationships long term,” said Toufic.

Above: Engineers work between Welwyn and Hitchin to deliver ECDP.
SIGNALLING 14 March 2024
Image: Network Rail

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What we are achieving couldn’t have been done without the industry coming together

“This is about how Network Rail engages with the supply chain and initially it is about establishing different ways of working between our regions and the supply chain and a strategic relationship that works together on joint objectives, innovation, technological maturity, and work bank planning. We’ve never done that at a strategic level with the supply chain and the business in that way, so it is all about evolving the culture.”

It comes off the back of Network Rail partnering with Siemens Mobility in the programme to introduce in-cab signalling on the southern section of the ECML. It has been an entirely new way of working, with Network Rail teaming up with suppliers from the start to design, develop and deploy ETCS technology.

“This has become the foundation for the national

framework of partnering with technology providers very early in the process on a whole life basis and with them being the delivery partner fully embedded in,” said Toufic.

“In this case, Siemens’ team is our delivery team on the ECML, which is quite different to traditional signalling projects which Network Rail would probably have designed in-house, with a supplier being brought in to do their bit and move on.”

It builds on the overall vision of establishing a better working relationship with the supply chain, something that will continue to evolve in the coming years.

“This year will be about ensuring everyone is developed from a product perspective so that they are ready to deploy in a similar way, and in working on joint initiatives that will help drive efficiency,” said Toufic. “There is a development journey that all the suppliers are going to go on to varying degrees of need to get into similar positions from a technology readiness perspective. That is going to be a key building block.”

The year ahead

Overall, it has already been a fascinating journey for Toufic, who initially joined Network Rail as a graduate, starting his career in maintenance and operations. He has delivered major engineering and change projects and established strategic plans in complex environments. He delivered the operational migration of Great Western Railway’s first new multitraction train maintenance facility, as well as several complex engineering projects for Crossrail.

“What I’m doing now is one of the most exciting, fulfilling things I’ve had the chance to be involved in,” he said. “It has allowed me to bring my approach, my mindset, and a combination of various things I’ve done in my career that have connected together in pioneering how we do things, centred around the key principles of really understanding the why and unlocking what people do.

“The real beauty of what we are doing is that it started off about solving signalling and ETCS and in trying to solve that, we had to solve how the industry worked together, and in solving how the industry worked together we have made the foundations for how a Great British Railways industry should function and how different parts of the organisation and industry should come together around big strategic things that matter.

“What we are achieving couldn’t have been done without the industry coming together. What we have shown is that if you create a different environment for the industry to come together, you get to capitalise on the capabilities that industry has across the board which is phenomenal, and I’ve been obsessive about that. Organisations and their people feel responsible for the railway and its future, and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved in what we have already achieved.

“Referring back to the ‘no one else is coming’ sticker, it is up to us to shape the change. When you have that belief that we can shape the change and bring the world with us, it is hugely empowering and that has been the foundation to this approach. Being at the heart of pioneering a different way of how industry works has been incredible.”

Great achievement - Project lead and qualified driver Oliver Turner joined the team during the first runs of the day
SIGNALLING 16 March 2024
Toufic Machnouk pictured with the Rail and HS2 Minister Huw Merriman

As the UK rail industry embarks on Control Period 7 (CP7), it fi nds itself at a crossroads – facing the dual demands of modernisation and sustainability, against the backdrop of ever-present pressures. Overarching goals include reducing delays by 20 per cent, increasing capacity by 30 per cent, reducing carbon emissions by 70 per cent, and achieving a fatality-free railway

On track for tomorrow: SEP Rail Group’s strategic advantage

SEP Rail Group stands at the forefront, ready to navigate these complexities. As the UK’s fastest-growing independent rail organisation, its unique approach to integrated solutions not only promises the efficient completion of projects but also instils confidence in their execution. Five distinct companies within SEP Rail Group bring unique skillsets to the industry, and together are perfectly aligned to meet these challenges.

Rikki Morrow, Managing Director of SEP Rail Services, explained: “With the redirection of HS2 funds and £44 billion in CP7 investment slated for the next five years, there is a golden opportunity ahead of us.”

However, seizing the opportunity requires navigating a complex supply chain maze – a task SEP Rail Group tackles with a blend of efficiency, reliability, and innovation.

Navigating the supply chain maze

The challenge of coordinating multiple supply chain partners is akin to a high-stakes balancing act, where delays or cancellations can have cascading effects.

“Through our five specialised subsidiaries, we’ve transformed these challenges into opportunities for unparalleled project delivery,” Rikki explained.

United in diversity

The strategic decision to operate as five distinct entities under the SEP Group umbrella is driven by a commitment to specialisation and excellence. Each company, led by directors with deep industry experience, operates with a degree of autonomy that fosters innovation and agility.

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This structure allows SEP Rail Group to offer a comprehensive suite of rail services, from surveying and design to engineering and maintenance, all while maintaining the unique identity and specialised focus of each company.

As Julian Gray, Monitoring Consultant at the Korec Group put it: “Your teams are without a doubt the best I have worked with in UK and Ireland, and I find it hard to find a team better in the 42 countries I have worked in.”

“Our model’s effectiveness is evident in our repeat business, with over 80 per cent stemming from loyal clients,” Rikki added, highlighting the trust and peace of mind SEP provides.

A single vision across multiple disciplines

The SEP Rail Group encompasses a wide range of services, each tailored to meet the intricate demands of rail infrastructure projects:

SEP Rail Services, led by Rikki Morrow, specialises in advanced railway surveying.

The company provides all aspects of topographical surveys, gauge clearance surveys, civil monitoring solutions, and more, mapping hundreds of miles of track, drainage, and utilities for some of the rail industry’s most recognisable organisations. With a commitment to leading the way through innovative technology, the company recently invested in the Trimble Dual-Headed GEDO GX50, a new modern data capture laser scanning system which will ensure the efficient delivery of highly precise results for their clients.

SEP Rail Design, under the directorship of James Morrow, provides track and drainage design. Leveraging 3D modelling and gauge clearance analysis, the in-house design team addresses every stage of the project lifecycle, aiding consultants and contractors in navigating their most complex challenges. James Morrow’s unique international experience, notably his 12 years in Papua New Guinea managing a team of 600 in seismic exploration, underlines the company’s adaptability and innovative approach to problem-solving.

SEP Rail Engineering, deeply rooted in providing engineering support, ranges from consultancy to on-site management. The company’s focus is firmly on ensuring client success. By working in synergy with its sister companies, SEP Rail Engineering plays a crucial role in the seamless transition from survey to design and delivery, embodying the group’s collaborative ethos.

SEP Geotech specialises in geotechnical site investigations, encompassing initial consultations, detailed investigations, testing, and the production of factual reports. Their expertise plays a crucial role in predicting, exposing, and mitigating risks associated with ground conditions prior to the design and construction stages.

James Morrow leads SEP Geotech along with Operations Director Kieran Moran. The firm’s deep integration with the SEP Rail Group facilitates access to specialised ground investigation support, utilising industryleading technology. In January, the company made a significant strategic purchase - a soil investigation rig tailored for steep rail embankments. This investment is anticipated to benefit not just SEP Geotech, but the entire SEP Rail Group and more vitally, their clients.

SEP Culant stands at the forefront of rope access, vegetation management, and civil construction, with a team of IRATA-certified arborists supporting major names in the rail industry across the UK Their expertise extends beyond vegetation management to include significant contributions to civil construction projects, such as the notable involvement in the Darlington station renovation – a project of special significance to the locally based team.

The group’s thorough understanding of railway infrastructure is key to maintaining hazard-free environments, ensuring that their projects proceed without unexpected interruptions. This collaborative ethos underscores the group’s commitment to safety in every aspect of their work on the UK’s rail infrastructure.

Preparing for the future of rail

The SEP Rail Group embodies the collaboration and innovation necessary to address the challenges and opportunities of CP7. Rikki affirmed: “Our integrated approach, combined with a commitment to client satisfaction and workforce wellbeing, positions us as a leader in the UK rail industry’s journey over the next five years. By continually investing in our people, technologies, and processes, we are not just responding to the immediate needs of the industry but are actively shaping and preparing for its future.”

As we move forward, the benefits of having five specialised companies under one roof bring will allow us to continue fostering long-term partnerships and contributing to the development of a rail network that meets the demands of tomorrow.”

Your teams are without a doubt the best I have worked with in UK and Ireland, and I find it hard to find a team better in the 42 countries I have worked in
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Network Rail employee Zoe Sookun has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her work in project managing the delivery of the Rail Aid for Ukraine project

“It was more than a project; it was a personal mission”

Zoe Sookun has no shame in saying she cried when she watched a video from Ukrainian Railways thanking Network Rail for its efforts in the delivery of rail aid.

And so she shouldn’t. The Network Rail employee project managed a £10 million aid package to Ukrainian Railways, which included the delivery of:

Eight bridge spans to replace damaged bridge decks.

Bridge supports to replace damaged abutments.

Four heavy JCB construction machines to assist with grain export.

Containers for grain export.

Automated railway inspection equipment to enable accurate inspection of bomb damage.

Rapid tunnel repair system for fixing damaged railway tunnels.

“This was unlike anything I had ever managed.

It was more than a project; it was a personal mission,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so passionate about delivering something in my life, pushing myself to the absolute limit, driven by the people I knew would benefit from it succeeding. I wasn’t on my own, I was one of many people whose efforts ensured that this was successful.”

Zoe has worked in project management for a decade, the last four years with Network Rail, where she is responsible for managing multiple projects with the safety and environment portfolios within Technical Authority.

PEOPLE 22 March 2024

“I’d never delivered anything like this before and neither had Network Rail. We had worked in conjunction in earlier phases with external companies to deliver the humanitarian aid,” she said. “But the later phase was the first time that Network Rail was delivering it themselves and managing all of procurement, customs, and logistics and working with DB Cargo to move it from the UK into Poland.

“When I was asked to deliver it my first reaction was ‘I can’t do this, we’ve never done this before and worked through all of the legal requirements and all of the logistics’.

“I hadn’t done a project with logistics, customs and all of that, it was all new to me. But my Programme Manager was amazing and confident that we could do it, so I was adamant about giving it my best go. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to work with everybody involved in the project. Without doubt, the reason it was so successful was because in the team around us, everyone was on the same page and passionate in ensuring we got it done.”

Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) made a passionate speech at the annual general meeting of the International Union of Railways, praising Network Rail and the Department for Transport as the only organisations providing practical help. The railways are vitally important in Ukraine, with 60 per cent of freight transported by rail.

Zoe said she was particularly driven by the firsthand experiences of speaking with people on the ground in Ukraine.

“I was seeing everything on the news about the attacks and the bridges that were being destroyed and I was sometimes trying to have meetings with Ukrainian Railway’s workers about logistics and they couldn’t join because they were in bomb shelters.

“There was one time I was talking to someone, and she said, ‘Hang on a minute the bomb siren is going off, I’ve just got to go and grab my laptop and go to a shelter’. You just sit and think whatever is happening around me it doesn’t matter; I am going to put in a million per cent and we are going to make this happen. This is going to happen and we’re going to get the aid over there.”

The team started working on the funding in June 2022, with the first train arriving from the UK in Poland 192 days later, before the goods were shipped to Ukraine. Zoe and the team had to navigate legal hurdles, and custom exercises, working tirelessly to stringent timescales and through many complexities to deliver a lasting benefit to Ukraine.

A Network Rail engineer also worked with Ukrainian Railway to make sure what was being delivered fit the specifications, particularly taking into account that Ukraine has a different track gauge to that in the UK.

In addition to the goods, some of the Ukrainian engineers came across to the UK and were trained by Mabey on how to install the bridges to ensure they could very quickly be placed in situ.

“I cannot put into words the emotions I felt when I visited Barking depot and saw the containers filled with bridging equipment being loaded onto the wagons and sent to Poland,” she said. “I could finally breathe a sigh of relief that we had done it and thought ‘Wow this happened’.

“It was also an honour to travel to Poland, stand in the snow, and sign over the aid to Ukrainian Railways. That will be a memory that I will hold on to for years to come.

“It was also emotional when I saw a news story that Ukrainian Railways had published when it had a bridge in situ with a train going over it. It was an amazing feeling knowing that thanks to our efforts they were able to move grain and passengers because we had been able to give them these bridges. That was a big point for me because it was when it hit home, the reality of what had been achieved and the impact it was having.”

Zoe, who has since moved from a Project Manager at Network Rail to its Engineering Verification and Recommendations Manager, was recognised for her efforts in The King’s New Year Honours List and awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the railway through her work in project managing the delivery of the Rail Aid for Ukraine project.

She said: “I’m not great with recognition and like to just get on with my work out of the limelight and when I got the letter from the Cabinet Office, I thought it was a joke and wondered why someone like me would get an award.

“I was so surprised and shocked, and it is such an honour and privilege to be recognised in this way. Just playing a part and seeing the impact the work has had in Ukraine is enough, so to also be awarded a British Empire Medal is fantastic.

“I love delivering and managing projects and successfully completing the Rail Aid for Ukraine project makes me believe I can do whatever I put my mind to. It was such an honour to have been given the opportunity to deliver something like this. I am so grateful because it has definitely been my career highlight and I don’t think anything will top it.”

This was unlike anything I had ever managed. It was more than a project; it was a personal mission
PEOPLE 23 March 2024

Transport Secretary Mark Harper says we are moving towards a more modern and fi nancially secure rail network that delivers for passengers following the publishing of a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny

A plan for the future of the railways

“It’s been nearly 200 years since the birth of the British railways, and with travel patterns having significantly changed over the last few years it is now more important than ever that they keep up with the changing times.”

That is the message from Transport Secretary Mark Harper on the news that a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny has been published.

The draft bill will see the creation of Great British Railways (GBR), which will bring together responsibility for both rail infrastructure and services. The Government says this will provide clearer lines of accountability and help build a more modern and financially secure sector and a network that is more adaptable and more efficient.

When established, GBR will be the new franchising authority, contracting with the private sector to deliver passenger services and maximise investment, innovation, and opportunity.

The Transport Secretary added: “GBR will have responsibility for infrastructure, operations, and oversight of whole industry finance where it is the franchising authority. It will be adaptable to changing customer needs, working in close partnership with the private sector (including train operating companies, freight operators, suppliers, and innovators) to deliver a more efficient, modern rail system underpinned by better collaboration and aligned incentives, generating value and savings that will have benefits for passengers and taxpayers.”

The draft Rail Reform Bill will now undergo prelegislative scrutiny to provide parliamentarians and industry experts the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the legislation. This will allow for time to understand the complexities of these reforms and ensure that the final legislation is as robust as possible. Scrutiny will be led by the Transport Select Committee.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “The Railway Industry Association welcomes the news that pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Rail Reform Bill is now being taken forward.

“The faster the Government pushes on with rail reform the faster we can remove uncertainty about the future structure of the industry and get on with building a vibrant and world-class railway for the future, delivering economic growth and enhanced connectivity across the UK in the decades ahead.”

GBR will have responsibility for infrastructure, operations and oversight of whole industry finance where it is the franchising authority

The national headquarters of GBR will be in Derby. Since it was set up in 2021, the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) has already helped lay the foundations for bringing track and train together, uniting expertise from across Network Rail, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the

private sector to help tackle the challenges faced by the railways.

GBR will also be tasked with driving forward the UK’s rail freight sector, where the Government recently set a target of 75 per cent growth by 2050. Alongside the draft Rail Reform Bill, the Government’s response to the public consultation on its Plan for Rail was also published, setting out how the public’s views on the proposed reforms have informed what has been taken forward in the draft legislation.

Maggie Simpson, Director General of the Rail Freight Group, said: “We are pleased that Government has listened to the concerns of the rail freight sector, and has set out how the new body will be required to ‘make provisions for the carriage of goods by rail’. This will help create confidence in the new rail structure and encourage private sector investment in rail freight growth.”

The Government says many reforms and tangible improvements for passengers are already being delivered. For example, pay as you go is currently being rolled out to more stations across the South East, and it has recently announced that pilots will also see tap-in tap-out train travel brought to more than 90 stations in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester next year.

Responding, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh, tweeted: “It has taken over five years for a draft of the bill to be published and ministers admit there are no plans to pass it before the election.

“Rail reform was first promised by the Government back in September 2018. The Williams Report was finally published in May 2021, admitting “the old ways were not working” and claiming, “we want our trains to run on time”.

“That was almost three years ago, with no action since. Since this Government first promised rail reform we have seen: the highest ever level of train of cancellations; the biggest national rail strikes in decades; three operators lose contracts for poor performance; failing operators rewarded with millions of pounds in fees and bonuses.

“It is clear rail reform is not a priority for the Tories. It will be a priority for Labour. Labour will bring our railways into public ownership as contracts expire, and create a new unified body to run the railways in the interest of the passenger.”

Image: UK Parliament

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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says that out of the ashes of last year, with HS2 Phase 2a being cancelled, they have started to piece something back together

Transforming rail in the North

“Local public control” are the three words Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham gives as the solution to problems facing the railways in the North of England.

There is no hiding his frustration as to the current condition of the railway and the need for change. It is 10 years since the then Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for HS3 (now known as Northern Powerhouse Rail), a high-speed rail link connecting Manchester and Leeds.

“We need to do something different to what has been done in the last decade,” said the Mayor. “Barely anything of what was promised in George Osborne’s speech 10 years ago has happened, in fact new analysis says that rail services are poorer now than they were in 2016 which is not good enough.

“When you think about rail in the North it is about what it enables the North to be, it is what it does for our places, rather than just giving us a cut price scheme because that is all the Government is

prepared to pay for it. It can’t be that way. We have to have a bigger ambition for what the railway can be, we have to learn from the HS2 experience.”

The Mayor’s frustration was further fuelled last year when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the northern leg of the HS2 project (the Birmingham to Manchester link) was being scrapped, spending the billions of cash savings on hundreds of other transport schemes across the country instead as part of his Network North initiative.

“Whitehall needs to learn from the HS2 experience because Whitehall has shown that it can’t deliver major infrastructure,” he said. “If you do it in that top-down way in which you don’t listen to people at a local level and you have the constant ministerial merry-go-round where a new minister comes in and wants to look at it again that is what imports delay, complexity, and cost into a major infrastructure scheme.

“If you do it in a more place-based way from the bottom up then you deliver infrastructure in a better

way because you link it to the place and at this level, we don’t have that ministerial merry-go-around, we have that long-term set direction for what we are trying to achieve for our places and that is something that needs to be the starting point when it comes to delivering infrastructure going forward.”

In response to the HS2 Phase 2a cancellation, the Greater Manchester Mayor has been working with his West Midlands counterpart Andy Street on potential plans with a consortium of businesses to improve rail links between their regions. It has been led by Sir David Higgins (who was formerly Chairman of HS2) and comprises seven private businesses – Arcadis, Arup, Skanska, EY, Dragados, Mace, and Addleshaw Goddard.

“Out of the ashes of last year we’ve started to piece something back together but that is a massive Handsacre to High Legh-sized hole in the plan for rail in the North and transport for the North,” he said. “If nothing is done to both of those two things you are just going to end up with transport headaches left

PEOPLE 26 March 2024
Image: Transport for Greater Manchester

right and centre in the rest of this century, there has to be a solution.

“If you have HS2 trains coming to Birmingham and then joining the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre it just won’t work. I think we’ve had an admission that there will be shorter trains and fewer seats going at lower speeds – this is not the transformation we were promised a decade ago. It would be the north-south divide in a journey.”

The Mayors have outlined three options: the enhancement of the West Coast Main Line, the introduction of bypasses to relieve congestion, and the construction of a new line, which could follow the scrapped HS2 route. If it were to be a new line, it would be primarily used by passenger trains, producing extra freight capacity on the existing line. The new line would possibly follow the cancelled HS2 route, however, construction costs would be reduced by the use of lower-specification, slower-running trains.

The Greater Manchester Mayor said: “We’re not reviving HS2, we’ve reluctantly had to accept that decision has been made and the money reallocated elsewhere. Where we’ve had some success is in saying to the Government that there has to be a solution for Birmingham to Manchester that is more than the West Coast Main Line.

“The group (private sector group) wants to complete its work by March, so they are really on with it and have looked at infrastructure around the world. It’s delivering more than I thought and is exceeding my expectations at this point in time.”

A project of this importance will require engagement with Government after this initial stage of work.

The Mayor added: “There are some leading industry players involved in the group and we’ve got some momentum behind it because there cannot be a Birmingham to Manchester-sized hole in the transport plan for the country. They said to me that TGV has been extended in France by purely the private sector approach, so I am not against that because something has to be done to fix the problem.”

We have to have a bigger ambition for what the railway can be, we have to learn from the HS2 experience
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PEOPLE 27 March 2024
Image: Transport for Greater Manchester

Another ongoing project is Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a major strategic rail programme, specifically designed to support the transformation of the North’s economy by providing effective and efficient rail connectivity between the North’s major economic centres, offering faster and more reliable services. The current proposal includes plans for a new connection between Manchester and Liverpool, however, details of the route are yet to be agreed.

When people say ‘well how do you pay for all that’, we say open your mind to things like land value capture

The Network North plan includes an additional £12 billion “to better connect Manchester to Liverpool”. This has been confirmed to be for the infrastructure that NPR would have shared with HS2 between High Legh and Manchester Piccadilly. £5 billion is already allocated in the Integrated Rail Plan for the connection from High Legh to Liverpool, something that the Mayor describes as “significant” and “more than a down payment”.

“I think with land value capture and other funding brought in you could get to the right railway for the North West,” he said. “But the Government have got to work with us and have high ambitions and do this properly. We need the most ambitious version of Northern Powerhouse Rail which should be a new station in Liverpool and come by at Manchester Airport and absolutely it should be underground at Piccadilly.

“When people say, ‘Well how do you pay for all that’, we say open your mind to things like land value capture. If the railway increases the value of the land around it because of what it enables, there is nothing wrong with capturing some of that uplift to pay for the infrastructure over a longer period of time.

“We are coming up to the 200th anniversary of the first railway commuter line in the world along this route. Why can the country have that level of ambition then, but not now? So far so good, there is a potential that we will work an early announcement soon that there is an agreement with the Government around the routing. We’re still awaiting to hear from the Government, but it has progressed better than I thought it would following HS2 if I’m being honest.”

On the Mayor’s earlier calls for local public control being the solution to transforming rail in the North of England, he turned to the Greater Manchester region getting new responsibilities over transport as

part of a devolution deal with the Government. The Trailblazer Deal includes more influence over regional rail services as part of the Bee Network vision, which aims to integrate bus, Metrolink, rail, and cycle hire with improved services, simpler fares, and integrated ticketing.

“It is evidence of local public control working,” he said. “We will deliver the infrastructure and have already proven that with Metrolink and the delivering of the extension to the Trafford Centre, the new Trafford Park Line, ahead of timetable and on budget.

“Look at Merseyrail as well, which, as I understand it, is the best-performing train operator in the country, and that comes from the accountability from local public control because people are on the spot, and they will be challenged if it isn’t right. There is visible accountability which I’m afraid isn’t in rail operations as far as I’m concerned, particularly working with private operators. That local public control doesn’t just bring accountability, but it also brings something else, it brings integration.”

The first stage of the Bee Network is due to be completed in January next year and involves an integrated ‘tap in tap out’ system for bikes, buses, and trams in Greater Manchester.

“We have a clear vision working with Vernon Everitt, our Transport Commissioner, to bring rail into the Bee Network in the second half of this decade so that the commuter rail system comes under local public control,” he said. “But the critical thing is then that you can integrate it with the rest of the system, but you can’t do that unless you put rail under local public control.

“We made a big argument to reregulate buses and we have done that in Greater Manchester and already the Bee Network buses are better than what they replaced and are outperforming non-franchise services. The same has got to be true for the railways. Commuter services under local public control can be more accountable to the travelling public, but also then integrated with other modes within the city region and that will begin to transform rail in the North of England.”

Concluding the interview, the Mayor spoke of the journey ahead and about progress on the Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“I would like to see this railway line open in my lifetime and before I leave office there will be a plan away for this railway and one that can’t be altered,” he said. “This is what we want to do, we’re not going to let the North West be continually treated in this way where promises are made and not delivered.

“But what can be done now to improve things? I’d like to see an accelerated timetable for commuter rail in Greater Manchester to come under the Bee Network, and the creation of a tap in tap out integrated public transport system over bike, bus, tram, and train. I’d like to see the rail industry work with us now to really move that forward and get some positivity going and get rid of some of the frustration.

“The Bee Network is happening, and the rail industry needs to work with us. We can, if the industry puts its mind to it, substantially improve the travelling experience on rail in this decade in the North West of England. The question is does the industry want to prioritise it with us?”

Image: Transport for Greater Manchester
PEOPLE 28 March 2024
Image: Transport for Greater Manchester

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Steve Passfield, Managing Director of Richfield Solutions Group, explains why providing rail personnel is a truly specialist business

The rail industry’s personnel specialists

In an industry as complex and dynamic as rail, the ‘bums on seats’ approach to labour supply simply doesn’t cut it.

That’s according to Steve Passfield, Managing Director of Richfield Solutions Group – and its rail division, Richfield Rail Solutions.

Seasoned industry professional Steve believes that the task of meeting rail labour supply needs is a complex one, demanding specialist knowledge. Keen to help, he founded Richfield Rail Solutions in 2019 – and, five years on, the business provides expert services and manpower to some of rail’s leading contractors.

Rail specialists

Steve attributes this success to Richfield Rail Solution’s unique approach and the fact its team is made up of experienced rail professionals, who understand the industry and its needs. They work to provide the right personnel for complex projects and dynamic environments, investing in and upskilling their workforce.

“The core of our work is manpower, and we now

supply safety critical and general labour to around 60 clients,” explained Steve, who began his career in track and civils gangs, before training as an HV assessor. “Being specialists in rail rather than recruitment consultants, we have the skillset that means it’s viable for us to get people off the ground in as little as two hours.

“We can write a full suite of track access documentation or deal with ODMs. My background is in possession planning, so we’re able to offer a full turnkey solution.”

The ‘A Team’ of emergency works

Indeed, after transitioning from HV assessor to possession planner, and later serving as the Rail Director of a manpower business, Steve knew that founding his own business was the next logical step.

Richfield Rail Solutions soon established itself as a specialist in emergency works, successfully delivering a scheme for a Tier 1 contractor with just two days’ notice over the Christmas period.

“We started with a few contracts, and we really took off in 2019, when we took on an emergency

scheme at Wivelsfield,” Steve said. “It was quite a large embankment failure, and we mobilised on 23 December, ready to start work on Boxing Day. It was a roaring success.

“Going forward, Network Rail continuously used us – like the A-Team – to deliver emergency works.”

Today, Richfield Rail Solutions supports everything from drainage works to landslip repairs, serving clients across Greater London, Anglia, Kent, Sussex, Wessex, and into the Midlands.

Thanks to its experienced rail team, the business can also offer specialist support – whether that means creating HV documentation, delivering track access planning services, or providing ESR and TSR designs alongside a partner.

The right people for the right jobs

Work has led to more work, with clients repeatedly turning to Steve and his team for support. This is due, not just to their agility and efficiency, but also their firm belief that labour supply should be more than a ‘bums on seats’ exercise.

“In the rail industry, a controller of site safety

ADVERTORIAL 30 March 2024

(COSS) can be working on a quiet, non-electrified piece of railway one week, and Clapham Junction the next,” he said. “That’s why we try to steer away from dilution and a ‘bums on seats’ mentality. Qualifications are one thing, skillsets are different. The works are fluid and dynamic – they change.”

Steve and his team work to ensure that the staff they supply have both the right qualifications, and the confidence and experience required to perform in these dynamic environments. It’s an approach that involves gaining an understanding of individuals’ knowledge and capabilities, and providing the right people for the right jobs.

Steve added: “If you’re building houses, you get a number of designs and build them over and over again in the same location. But in rail, there are a lot of different safe systems of work, and local arrangements too. It’s about ensuring that people understand the dynamics of the areas they’re working in, rather than firing a COSS out of the door and assuming they know how to implement a complex line blockage.”

The importance of upskilling and mentorship

Now, with approximately 600 workers on its books, Richfield Rail Solutions has access to a pool of “the right people”. It is working to grow this pool via upskilling and mentoring – something Steve feels strongly about.

“We look to upskill quite a lot,” he explained. “We have a number of the most knowledgeable engineering supervisors in the Southern region, and their mentorship is invaluable. It brings individuals on, and you end up with a business full of people who have the skills to manage complex worksites.”

Richfield Rail Solutions’ approach to upskilling is informed by the needs of the industry.

“Market trends dictate where we look to upskill,” Steve added. “We recently helped an individual who was working as a PTS Operative to train as a COSS. We identify people with the right character and determination, and the desire to better themselves. It’s something we see a lot in our staff.”

This workforce is supported by the business’s office team – most of whom, are also rail professionals.

“When I founded the business, I knew I had to have railway people,” explained Steve. “I ensure that the office team has the same understanding. Even new starters will be personal track safety trained and go out at the weekend, gaining an understanding of our core values.

“It’s all well and good them sitting in a warm office when we have people going out onsite, sopping wet. They have to understand what we do, why we do it, and the roles.

“My Operations Manager is a qualified workplace assessor. My Labour Manager is an engineering supervisor. They are high-level, safety-critical roles.”

A focus on safety

This team of rail specialists understands the industry’s key concerns – particularly, safety.

“Safety is paramount, and one of the biggest drivers on the railway,” said Steve. “There are a lot of processes and procedure changes, and it’s in peoples’

natures to take shortcuts. We strive to eliminate that, working within the Network Rail standards and in line with the rule books, and upholding a very high level of safety.

“We also try to drive innovation, and have an automated system that makes it easier to update individuals on standards changes or new legislation.”

And what next for Steve and his team?

“We already cover a very large area and we’re looking to grow in other parts of the country,” he said. “Obviously, we want to do that the smart way, without diluting. That’s our goal for the next three years.”

Richfield Rail Solutions’ sister companies, Richfield Occupational Health Solutions and Richfield Training Solutions, are also going from strength to strength.

Steve added: “We’re slowly growing Richfield Occupational Health Solutions, which offers fit-towork medicals and drug and alcohol testing. The last part of the group is Richfield Training Solutions; by the end of 2024, we hope to have a skills academy, which will provide railway track safety and competence training. These different elements complement each other.”

And Steve believes that the future is bright, both for Richfield Solutions Group, and the UK rail industry.

“I think we’ve got an amazing 10 years ahead, based on the current contracts that are being awarded,” he concluded. “While nothing’s a certainty, Britain runs on rail. Continuity of work is an issue, but I’m hoping that the new contracts which are released in April will give companies a good look ahead at work and a good work bank.

“If we want to be in a position to upskill and bring in new people, I think the 10-year aspect of those frameworks will be really beneficial for the rail industry.”

https://www.richfield.co.uk/ 01233 349021

Qualifications are one thing, skillsets are different. The works are fluid and dynamic –they change
ADVERTORIAL 31 March 2024

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has taken over hosting the annual SIGEX Control, Command and Signalling (CCS) Exhibition.

Nigel Wordsworth reflects on the 2023 event

SIGEX makes a welcome return

The challenge is to move to a “software-led railway” while still including older technologies for equipment such as level crossings. That was the message from RIA Technical Director David Clarke at SIGEX 2023 conference and exhibition explaining that “we need new skills, but we also need to retain old skills”.

SIGEX 2023, organised by RIA and held in Leicester on Tuesday 21 November, is the natural successor to SIG-X, a similar event organised by Network Rail’s Signalling Innovation Group (SIG) and last held in Bristol in February 2020. SIG has since been disbanded, but RIA, supported by Network Rail and working with former SIG head David Shipman, adapted the successful formula to develop the new event.

Designed to appeal to signal engineers and engineering managers alike and sponsored by Kilborn Consulting, SIGEX combined keynote speeches and presentations from Network Rail, Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), Thales, AtkinsRéalis, the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) and the Department for Business and Trade with plenty of time for delegates to visit the numerous exhibitors in the adjoining hall.

The day’s keynote speech was delivered by Martin Jones, Network Rail’s Chief Engineer. His key theme was ’The need for change’, by which he meant how Network Rail does things, what it does and its approach to risk. “We are risk averse around being the first to do things,” he said. “So, we’ve got to change that. What we cannot do in CP7 is just repeat what we’ve done in CP6, that’s a definite.”

Martin explained that the problem wasn’t a safety issue, as safety was always carefully assessed with any new technology. “It’s more around what if there is an overrun?” he explained. “Or what if something goes wrong? If I miss my access window, what are the cost implications, the reputation implications? People like to play it safe, which might be big and expensive, but they have some confidence it will happen.” Fear of venturing into the unknown is the culture which Network Rail has to overcome.

“This is the opportunity that comes through the industry integration that will be GBR,” he added.

All photographs credited to Nigel Wordsworth/RIA Martin Jones
SIGNALLING 32 March 2024
Andy Doherty

“A more cross-industry approach will allow us to do things in a more sensible manner. We’re already starting to do that, you can see Network Rail working far more closely than it ever has with the operators to try and come to more sensible solutions.”

Testing and validation

The overarching theme for the rest of the presentations was ‘Testing and validation for future CCS’. Setting the scene, the second speech of the day was from Luisa Moisio, Director of Research at the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB). Her topic was ‘Quicker, cheaper and better testing and validation’.

When validating a new product, Luisa said that the industry always tends to look solely at acceptance and deployment. Operations and maintenance can get forgotten, as there is, in her opinion, not enough joined-up thinking.

Also, the process very often involves full-scale testing on the main line. This isn’t always the most relevant option.

One solution is virtual testing and validation, using data analytics, supercomputing, augmented or virtual reality and digital twins. This is quite possible using today’s technology, but it presents certain challenges. One is how can the various elements be brought together to see the railway as a whole system – Luisa likened it to putting together the parts of a jigsaw puzzle.

The journey to assemble this jigsaw has started.

There will be some ‘quick wins’ while other aspects will need long-term development. To further the conversation, RIA and RSSB co-hosted an Unlocking Innovation event on testing and validation on 5 December in London.

The session then broke so that delegates could visit the exhibition in the other hall. Four exhibitors all gave ‘Spotlight’ presentations of their latest technologies as delegates crowded around their displays. Wago and Aqua Fabrications made their presentations before lunch, CGI and Staytite immediately afterwards.

Technical presentations

Three technical presentations in the auditorium followed the lunch break. Rubina Greenwood, Head of Systems Requirements and Integration for Network Rail’s Digital Railway Programme, spoke first, choosing the topic of the ‘Synthetic environment’.

“This is basically an ecosystem of digital tools, which will help clients, suppliers and designers to work in one digital environment with one common data platform,” she explained. “Basically, you can develop the design, you can integrate, you can simulate the design earlier on, so that the user can find the design options that are suitable and appropriate. So, you have a quicker validation and verification of the design before you go for detailed design for the command and control and signalling scheme, especially for ETCS level two schemes.”

We are risk averse around being the first to do things, so we’ve got to change that
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SIGNALLING 33 March 2024
Ask a roomful of people what they mean by ‘digital twins’ and you’ll get 20 different definitions

Rubina explained that, at the moment, Network Rail has a large of number of tools – design tools and visualisation tools – but all these tools are independent and have never been working on one ecosystem or worked with one data source. What is needed is a common truth about the data that the designer can update.

Andy Doherty of GCRE updated delegates on the latest design for the UK’s newest railway test centre - he called it the physical end of the digital twin. Testing at GCRE will be “risk managed, not risk averse” and the facility should be open for testing in 2026/27.

George Walker and Chris Winter of AtkinsRéalis introduced the conference to the National ETCS Testing Laboratory (NET-LAB) at Egham, near Heathrow. This will independently test and validate ETCS equipment before introduction on the infrastructure. It is independent from the supply chain and will test new equipment and its interoperability between different manufacturers on behalf of Network Rail.

Although there is already an ETCS test facility on the Herford Loop, it is much cheaper to undertake testing and validation in the laboratory under controlled conditions, where any issues can also more easily be rectified.

A break for refreshments followed, giving delegates more time to visit the exhibition stands and allowing Silver Fox and Frauscher to present their Exhibitor Spotlights.

Digital twins and synthetic environments

Two speakers from Thales gave the first presentation after the break. Robert McGeachy and Ben Orcan work more often in defence rather than in rail, but about 30 per cent of their work is in the civil sector and industry as a whole faces similar challenges.

“Ask a roomful of people what they mean by ‘digital twins’ and you’ll get 20 different definitions,” Robert explained afterwards. “But the industry is actually coming together to form a consistent definition. And, to have that consistent definition, they need to define maths and physics-based models, digital models, digital shadows, and then digital twins. So the industry is converging on this common lexicon for all those different things.”

Digital shadows are systems in which the information flow is only in one direction. Passenger information systems are one example – the digital display reflects the information sent to it about train times and departures, but it has no way of feeding information back to the data source. A digital twin works in both directions, with changes made to the data at either end of the system updating the other.

Thus, a digital twin is the digital counterpart of a physical system, and it exists in a synthetic environment as opposed to the physical system’s realworld environment.

Emphasising the importance of digital twins, the conference’s last speech was delivered by Alex Luck from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) who introduced delegates to the National Digital Twin Programme.

She explained: “The National Digital Twin Programme, which is based out of the Department

for Business and Trade, is His Majesty’s Government’s programme around the development of capability and national digital twinning. So, it’s really about how we bring together information in a way that allows us to share it across different sectors and domains. And how do we also improve engagement with that information, to allow us to visualise it, to analyse it and to start optimising decisions based upon it? So that’s all sorts of technologies all the way up to and including digital twins.

“We’ve got very strong links with the Department for Transport. In fact, we’re doing a collaborative piece of work with the Department for Transport in relation to our demonstrator programme. But we’re also very closely aligned with other parts of Government to ensure that what we’re doing is propagated across different departments and that we share learning with them.”

David Clarke rounded off the day’s proceedings by thanking all those involved. He said: “We had a great exhibition area populated with key players in the signalling and control systems market and heard from some great speakers during the conference, including Martin Jones, Chief Engineer at Network Rail, Luisa Moisio, Director of Research and Development at RSSB and Andy Doherty, Chief Technology Officer at the Global Centre of Rail Excellence.

“We also heard from several ‘Spotlight’ exhibitors, where organisations in the exhibition space got the opportunity to showcase their products and services to an audience.”


Delegates and presenters alike were very complimentary about the event, which had been a busy one with lots of discussion taking place during the networking sessions.

“A really good event - great networking opportunities and interesting and informative presentations and exhibitors,” commented David Walters of Vossloh.

David Taylor, Account Director for Mainline Rail at Thales Ground Transportation Systems called it an “excellent event (with) some really insightful presentations” while Steve Welch, Commercial Manager at TVS Rail Spares, said he had enjoyed the “really good event”.

James Brewer, Head of Rail Supply Chains at the Department for Business and Trade, was one of the delegates at the event. “My DBT colleague Alex Luck gave a fascinating presentation on the National Digital Twin Programme, including on how it’s engaging with stakeholders such as GCRE, the Department for Transport and Network Rail,” he said.

Event Partner David Shipman of RailETC said: “When we ran these from within the SIG group in Network Rail, they were a well-received addition to the industry events calendar, and this relaunch with RIA is destined to continue that tradition. “There’s been some excellent feedback on today’s event and, while I know there are things we can do even better, it’s fantastic for RIA to have declared support for this for another year too.”

Learn more about Sigex 2024 here https://www. riagb.org.uk/EventDetail?EventKey=RIASIGEX24

Chris Winter
SIGNALLING 34 March 2024
Luisa Moisio

Shamit Gaiger has been appointed President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) for the Railway Study Forum. She has called on the rail industry to remain relevant by focusing on the customer across every decision the sector makes

Keeping relevant to the customer

It was Winston Churchill who said “never let a good crisis go to waste”. Those words ring true with Shamit Gaiger, West Coast Partnership Development’s (WCPD) Managing Director. Alongside the fulltime job, she has just been appointed President of CILT for the Railway Study Forum. She has urged the industry to find a silver lining in the challenges and uncertainty it faces, with rising costs, ongoing industrial relations, delays to rail reform, and an imminent general election.

“As an industry, we need to work together and better at how we stay relevant to the customers

and communities we serve in a fast-changing environment,” she said.

Shamit highlighted steps that she believes are a good start to address uncertainly and the everincreasing pace of change:

“The first is to address what is rail for,” she said. “Is it a commercial proposition or a policy outcome such as social value driving accessibility (in its wider sense) and/or part of the solution to decarbonise our economy? Getting clarity on the role rail plays in our society and economy will help the industry focus its efforts and investment. There is a danger that we are trying to be all things to all people and

trade-offs are not part of the debate.

“Secondly, to keep relevant, rail must focus on the customer across every decision we make. Don’t be fazed by the high pace of change and level of uncertainty, that isn’t going away, so we need to start thinking differently and not look at the challenges in a way that paralyses our decision-making and stops us from making investment decisions.”

Shamit highlights that this includes tracking trends of consumer behaviour, which has seen significant changes in terms of customer demographics. Travelling habits have also changed, with the emergence of more people who are willing to pay

PEOPLE 36 March 2024
Images: West Coast Partnership Development

for ‘experience’, and expect seamless ticketing, personalisation, a seat and mobile connectivity.

Furthermore, the industry needs to cater for the growth of ‘Generation Alpha’ (people who were born or will be born between 2010 and 2025) who are digitally focused, while continuing to deliver for current generations, such as ‘Gen Z’, who are getting older and remaining reliant on public transport.

“I am optimistic about the future of rail because the majority of young people aged 16 to 25 do not

have a full driving licence and are reliant on public transport,” she said. “These are the future customers that we need to understand and build trust and an emotional connection with.

“But this is not enough, as a sector we should respond to the changing landscape by building new flexibility into our systems, our thinking and decisionmaking, and by focusing on monitoring future trends, and the use of scenarios planning rather than forecasts. The industry needs to keep agile and be

we need to work together and better at how we stay relevant to the
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an industry,
fast-changing environment PEOPLE 37 March 2024
and communities we serve in a
If we want to change and make rail relevant to our customers, we need to have some difficult conversations

clear on ‘no regret decisions’ on the one hand and last responsible moments for more complex decisions on the other.”

Shamit is optimistic about the industry overcoming the challenges and uncertainty, taking inspiration from how the railways reacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, when train timetables were ripped up and working practices changed overnight.

Railway Study Forum calendar

30 April – Adeline Ginn – Legal Director, Egis UK and Founder and former Chair of Women in Rail – ‘Inclusion and diversity challenge and opportunities’.

21 May – Professor Paul Plummer – Director of the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education, University of Birmingham – ‘How do you set long-term investment planning to the short-term political landscape’.

20 June – Emma Head – Technical Services Delivery Director, HS2 – ‘The future of rail to the background of high uncertainty from the lens of technology and innovation’.

17 July– Darren Caplan – Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association –‘Partnership with the supply chain’.

20 September – Russell Jackson – Global Transit Director, AECOM – ‘Rail across the globe – compare and contrast’.

15 October – CILT UK RSF Annual Dinner.

5 November – Anthony Perret – Regional Director, Strategic Advisory, AECOM –‘Sustainability, Environment and Social Values – are we leading or lagging?’

Visit ciltuk.org.uk/RSF

“During the pandemic, the industry did act proactively and was agile, innovative and it did things differently,” she said. “We should have that mantra in times of business as usual because we see the industry respond effectively when it has to.”

Shamit believes that business models should be tipped, rather than the current system of making decisions based on infrastructure first, then considered operationally, and finally in terms of what the customer is getting.

“What I am suggesting is that we start with the end user and ensure the infrastructure is agile to reflect their needs now and in the future,” she said. “The technology is out there to understand the end user, be it passenger or freight, so we should be able to generate even better insight into why they travel, where, what their needs are and critically what they are willing to pay for and make that lead our investment decisions both in operations and infrastructure.”

The customer-led approach falls in line with the journey for Shamit as Managing Director of WCPD, which is designing and mobilising new high speed services for the UK. These services will run on the new HS2 route and the existing railway. The goal is to maximise the benefits of the investment from the Department for Transport (DfT) into the new HS2 railway, as well as the upgrades to the railway on the West Coast Main Line.

She said: “I am in a privileged position where WCPD has an interesting scope to try and do something different on the West Coast Main Line and we work very closely with Network Rail and HS2 and we are quite ambitious to do things differently. We now have quite an ambitious customer proposition and we are

putting the customer at the heart of every decision that we make, and we do that with our partners.

“This year is about looking at what more we can achieve when we start with the customer. I am very optimistic about what we can achieve on the West Coast Main Line in collaboration with Network Rail, DfT, and HS2 ltd, but we are just starting this journey. I have the scope and brief from the Government to do something different and I want to capitalise on that both in my role at WCPD, but also as President of CILT’s Railway Study Forum.”

Despite juggling many roles, including the full-time job at WCPD, and work at Women in Rail leading Senior Women in rail or Transport and their male allies, or SWiFT for short, Shamit was flattered to take on the role of President of CILT for the Railway Study Forum. She is inspired by the team’s drive to get more people engaged in meaningful conversations about rail, bringing together people who are experienced and apprentices and young people across the sector.

CILT is the chartered body for professionals involved in the movement of goods and people and their associated supply chains. The Railway Study Forum (formerly known as the Railway Study Association) is one of the rail industry’s longeststanding bodies and gives members a platform to share experiences, knowledge and opinions on issues relating to all aspects of the industry. It also arranges events to provide opportunities for networking and professional development.

“I see it as my way of giving something back,” she said. “If we want to change and make rail relevant to our customers we need to have some difficult conversations. Overall, I want to use my presidency to instil into the industry the need to remain relevant to customers almost to an intimate level by establishing an emotional connection and trust, linking it to customers’ desire for personalisation when it comes to building brand loyalty.

“I am excited about the year ahead with some fantastic speakers lined up covering the future of skills, investment, future technology and technical solutions, international rail, sustainability, diversity and inclusion and the supply chain.”

PEOPLE 38 March 2024
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For organisations operating in the rail construction sector, the emergence of 3D concrete printing technology has raised as many questions as it has answers

Printing for the planet: How ChangeMaker 3D is redefining rail construction

D printing is undoubtedly an interesting innovation, but how exactly could it work in our industry? What are the associated costs? How would we implement the technology? And how do we address the skills gap?

But what if you could have a library of assets ready to print at the push of a button?

ChangeMaker 3D has spent years testing 3D printing technology, proving the business case and ensuring the highest standards of site safety. The Midlands-based firm also has the credentials to back it up. Last year it was awarded a Building Innovation Award for 3D Printing Technology, while in 2022 it was named ‘Best 3D Concrete Printing Company (UK)’.

The company’s founders Natalie and Luke Wadley met at school as teenagers, and their longstanding relationship has given them trust and an intuitive understanding. They left their jobs and sold their house to raise funds for ChangeMaker, which was initially conceived to build homes using 3D-printed technology.

carbon output of construction projects and leaving a lasting legacy on the planet.

3 We want our robots on as many infrastructure projects as possible in the UK, training people and using a technology that reduces carbon, waste and time

They say the case for skills development is particularly compelling, at a time where the skills gap in construction has become something of a crisis. Natalie and Luke want to use 3D printing to train young and disadvantaged people, together with ex-military personnel, in the green, digital skills that the industry will need for the future.

“We want to use this new technology as a force for good,” explained Natalie. “It isn’t just about being a successful business. We want a business that is sustainable in every sense. We want our robots on as many infrastructure projects as possible in the UK, training people and using a technology that reduces carbon, waste and time.”

What is 3D concrete printing?

Energised by the potential to use emerging technologies as a force for good, Natalie and Luke have combined their passions for print innovation, skills and partnerships to create a business aimed at revolutionising on-site construction, reducing the

3D concrete printing combines state-of-the-art robotics with print innovation. A component such as a wall is designed and digitally modelled. The robot then prints the component layer by layer, piping lowcarbon mortar to an exact specification.

Printing using this method enables components to be delivered in physically restricted areas, eliminating the need for complicated and expensive logistical plans.

ADVERTORIAL 40 March 2024
Printing concrete with computer-operated robots has enabled SCS JV to make a test structure on site, instead of transporting pre-cast slabs by road

ChangeMaker 3D has developed Printfrastructure™, a trademarked identity for 3D concrete printed infrastructure components, together with the end-to-end supply capability to support the production of onsite and offsite materials for construction projects. They identify and integrate different technologies – combining materials and robotics – to meet the needs of a particular client brief.

Breaking the mould on HS2

Printfrastructure™ is already present in the UK rail industry, having been deployed by HS2 Ltd’s London tunnels contractor SCS JV (Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture), in a move that represents an ambitious shift forward in construction technology on rail infrastructure projects.

Printing concrete with computer-operated robots has enabled SCS JV to make a test structure on site, instead of transporting pre-cast slabs by road before being assembled and lowered into place by large cranes.

The process could deliver tangible environmental, cost and community benefits for Britain’s new highspeed rail network. Collaboration has been key, as ChangeMaker 3D co-founder Luke Wadley explained:

“They (HS2) wanted to use their spending power to be sustainable, and they became our early adopters. They are clients but also advocates, they have put money into projects that have taken us forward because they can see what we are doing and how important it is. That’s why the relationship has worked.”

The potential for wider use on rail infrastructure projects is huge, Natalie added:

“In areas where construction work is taking place besides a live railway, we can deliver works without disrupting the travelling public.

“We can use robotics to print reinforced concrete, enabling construction to continue with trains running at the same time, where previously work would have taken place overnight after trains have stopped running, potentially disturbing the local community, or would have required the suspension of services to ensure safe working.”

ChangeMaker 3D has bold plans for a lowcarbon future in the construction sector. By 2030, the company aims for Printfrastructure to capture a 2 per cent share of the market, removing 5 per cent of all carbon from the sector.

Natalie and Luke also hold aspirations to have print hubs installed in every county in the UK, equipped with a range of robots, by 2030. Longerterm, they want to see a printer on every major scheme nationwide.

3D-printed Toilet Pods: A first for UK rail

As one of 20 winning SMEs on the Clean Futures Accelerator programme, ChangeMaker 3D was chosen for funding to help it develop its own 3D-printed Toilet Pod, for trial use. The company is currently working with Transport for Wales to develop the bespoke 3D-printed toilet pod, which will integrate rainwater harvesting and solar power to make it self-sustaining.

Work originally began in 2022 in collaboration with Amey, and testing of the Pod is currently taking place at BCIMO’s purpose-built Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) and its Rail Development and Test Site.

Natalie explained: “This 3D Toilet Pod is creating a first of its kind for the UK Rail sector and allowing us to continue with our cross-sector knowledge sharing.

“We are in an exciting position now where we can take our learning and continue to innovate and push boundaries.

“We’re reaping the benefits from the Clean Futures Accelerator funding, support and testing at the industry-leading facilities of the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation to bring this unique innovation into use.”

Shaping the projects of the future

Looking to the future, Luke says ChangeMaker 3D will continue to work with tech innovators to find the best technology to meet client needs, helping to refine and improve its robotics.

The long-term goal is to take its message of improved productivity and sustainability to construction firms and infrastructure projects, including the rail industry, across the globe.

“We want to be international,” said Luke. “And we want to design out carbon, and print in a way that is more sustainable and has productivity enhancement on every project, using technology that gets faster and more accurate all the time.”

For more information on ChangeMaker 3D visit: changemaker3d.co.uk

ADVERTORIAL 41 March 2024

Jason Hurst, Partner, Grant Thornton, Public Services Advisory, writes about how

the overriding driving force behind any future decisions on the railways should be what is best for the passenger and the taxpayer

Rail nationalisation: exploring the options

The nationalisation of the railways will become an increasingly debated topic as we get closer to a general election and the policies of potential future governments are discussed, particularly given the aspiration of some to bring the railways back under public ownership.

Whilst the broad concept of nationalisation is

understood, the different components of the railways and the various approaches nationalisation could take need to be considered within the context of policy objectives and, most importantly, what’s best for the passenger. This is particularly important given that the markets and communities served by our railways differ across the network.

Much of the railway is already publicly controlled: Railway infrastructure is publicly owned, controlled

Passenger services are primarily publicly controlled, but delivery is split between the public and private sectors. Private sector operations are delivered through National Rail Contracts (NRCs) which give Government significant control, while public sector operations are under service agreements through DfT OLR Holdings Ltd (DOHL), or the equivalent in Scotland and Wales.

There are a small number of ‘open access’ long-distance operators that are run commercially by the private sector. Passenger rolling stock is privately owned and leased to operators to deliver the specified services. And freight services are also controlled and delivered by the private sector, including

Bringing rolling stock leasing companies and freight operators under public sector control would be costly and challenging in a financially constrained environment. As such, the focal point of any nationalisation debate is likely to be around the delivery of passenger services, and there will be differing views - from full nationalisation to one with input from the private sector.

Nationalisation options

Passenger experience is fundamentally driven by the concepts of control, for example, who decides what services will run and the cost of tickets, and how the services are delivered.

The question of ownership is therefore best addressed through the lens of control and delivery, and there are several options when considering this, including:

Bringing rail operators in-house, with Government having both control and delivery responsibility.

Government having control over the passenger train services, but delivery of the services being outsourced to the private sector.

Having a blend of public and private sector passenger services, driven by the market served and what is important to passengers.

Government control and delivery

To achieve both control and delivery, the private sector operators would need to be brought in-house. This could be achieved when the current NRC contracts expire but unifying the railway would require track and train to be more integrated. This could be done using DOHL, Network Rail, Great British Railways, or a separately established arm’slength body to act as an overarching guiding mind. All options have delivery hurdles, lengthy transition periods, and potential legislative change.

A new arm’s-length body including track and train would be a large organisation, and its relationship with Government would need to be defined and managed to balance operational freedom and ministerial control to champion the passenger.

Value could be driven by the scale that would exist within the organisation. Innovation would need to be driven by the public sector and be a key focus of any arm’s-length body.

Open access would still be operational on the railway and outside of direct Government control.

Government control with private sector delivery

Under this model, control of passenger services could be brought together with infrastructure to unify the


railway under a single guiding mind, again giving the Secretary of State effective control to champion the passenger. Delivery of passenger services would be outsourced to the private sector, which would be incentivised to focus on the delivery of the Government’s objectives, akin to the Transport for London model.

This could be built out of the present NRC contracting approach which already gives the Government effective control and would avoid the need for a wholesale reset of the current contracting model, and the additional disruption this could cause.

To drive value, consideration could be given to centralising some functions across the network, such as marketing and timetabling, or even an independent fault allocation team rather than the duplication that exists today.

As with above, open access operators would still run on the network.

Hybrid Government control and delivery, along with private sector operations

Whilst a single network, the railway is made up of several different passenger markets with differing priorities, modal competition, and drivers of revenue. A potential option could be to use different approaches for the various markets served — as one size does not fit all.

The public sector could control (and, potentially, deliver as per the options above) services where performance is particularly important, such as commuter services. Uniting track and train for these services could also help to manage areas of high congestion. As with the other options, this could also

enable an increased level of devolved management of ‘travel to work’ services in urban areas, allowing local authorities to consider cross modal ‘place based’ transport solutions.

Longer-distance services, such as those on the East and West Coast, could then be delivered by the private sector on a commercial basis. This would provide flexibility to drive competition with other modes of transport, particularly road and air, where customer experience and customer satisfaction are key factors in driving revenue. Innovation would naturally be incentivised for these operators, which could be leveraged on other services where appropriate.

The private sector involvement could be achieved through auctioning paths via a number of contracts to run a committed level of service, serving communities along the route. Any profits generated could then be shared with the Government, which in turn could be utilised on nationalised local services.

Whilst this approach would result in less Government control over the long-distance operators, it would balance control over the commuter market and enable competition in areas where it is most fierce, such as air travel.

As the current open access operators demonstrate, this more commercial model (albeit with service level commitments) could be a successful model serving the long distance/leisure market, replicating the ambition within the airline sector.

Nothing’s ever easy

None of these options are easy, but doing what is best for the passenger and the taxpayer should be the

overriding driving force behind any decision.

Several approaches to running passenger services have been tried over the years, from full nationalisation to franchising, and whilst each has had its positives, it has also had challenges.

Maybe it is time to think differently, focus on the passengers served, and leverage the best of both the public and private sectors where it would have the most impact.

Grant Thornton’s Public Services Advisory team has significant experience in providing advice to Government and its supply chain across all aspects of transport.

Visit https://www.grantthornton.co.uk/ or email jason.m.hurst@uk.gt.com

Doing what is best for the passenger and the taxpayer should be the overriding driving force behind any decision
ADVERTORIAL 43 March 2024

Rajinder Pryor MBE, writes about why it’s so

important for women to continue to maintain visibility in the railway industry across all levels and support others in their


The journey to inspire inclusion

It was George Stephenson who once said, “To succeed, you must have the willingness to try, the determination to succeed, and the passion to carry you through”.

His legacy as ‘Father of Railways’ lives on and so too does his equally relevant advice on achieving success, which I’m sure continues to resonate with many.

Back in his day, there were still relatively few women who were involved in the creation of the railways. Though there is some evidence, which has been documented.

I wonder what Stephenson would say to us women in the railway today? And what would he make of the strides made in equality, diversity, and inclusion we have? Easy for us to take these things for granted but it’s always good to remind ourselves of how far we have come. Stephenson also said “There can be no progress without struggle,” which thinking about it, sums up my own career journey.

Looking back, after a few frustrating years of feeling stuck in myself and my career, it was in March 2017 to mark International Women’s Day and the theme of BeBoldforChange that I plucked up the courage to put myself forward and speak at a Women in Rail event, touching on the reality of what was holding me back.

Speaking in meetings, let alone to a group I didn’t know, was way out of my comfort zone at the time. I think about this now and see how culturally, I had been influenced. In the patriarchal environment that I had grown up in female voices were not encouraged. I carried that conditioning into the work environment for so many years. It was liberating to find my voice and grow confident in using it.

The power of mentoring is something I attribute my success to. It was through attending a deeply impactful mentoring workshop session that I discovered the magic ingredient that propelled me forward - and I’ve been an advocate for the power of mentoring ever since.

This is exactly why I feel so privileged to lead the Women in Rail Mentoring Programme. Now in its 11th year, and delivered by global mentoring experts Moving Ahead, this initiative means a lot to me personally and is fortunate to have advocates from across the industry.

Among those is Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive

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Officer of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), who said: “The Women in Rail mentoring scheme is a vital initiative that champions diversity within the industry, empowering women and other marginalised groups to achieve their full potential. RDG has participated in the scheme since its inception in 2019 and it continues to equip our people with invaluable insights, confidence, and leadership skills, as well as providing excellent networking opportunities.”

Equally for me, female role models are important in an industry where the majority of senior management roles are occupied by men. This is something fellow trustee Shamit Gaiger, Managing Director at the West Coast Partnership Development, is passionate about and leading on through SWiFT – Senior Women in (or Formerly in) UK rail or Transport and their male allies.

SWiFT is another Women in Rail initiative which provides space and support for its executive members through a peer-to-peer network, to foster the development of high-potential women and help them progress their careers into more senior roles at board level. Last year SWiFT held a number of successful events with members from across 58 organisations - open to professionals, both male and female, who hold senior positions.

The informal gatherings – sponsored by Newsom Consulting - have included ‘An Evening With’ sessions, featuring high-profile speakers such as Alastair Campbell, Ruth Todd, Nicola Shaw, and author Suzy Levy. Events have also included a non-

The power of mentoring is something I attribute my success to

executive director workshop with panellists Elaine Holt, Sharon Flood, and Tracey Killen, and an executive coaching session with accredited coaches Lorraine Flower and Richard Phillips.

Shamit said: “Following the success of last year with positive feedback we are delighted to be welcoming back existing and new members to events scheduled for 2024 with some great speakers. Each of the events provide unique insights, an opportunity for Q&A, and a relaxed intimate environment to network with peers.”

Wherever you are in your career journey being honest with yourself is sometimes the hardest thing to do but self-reflection leads to real discovery and a path of progress towards success.

In 2024 the International Women’s Day theme is #InspireInclusion and I’d like to think I am doing my bit in this space having illustrated how to #BeBoldforChange.

I am passionate about change and on reflection have always been a change maker without even realising it. One example was in February 2023 when I started posting stories on my internal social media storyline on a range of topics. Thanks to colleagues who engaged in December 2023 as part of the annual Viva Engage Festival by SWOOP Analytics in collaboration with Microsoft, I was selected as the Europe Middle East and Africa Region Viva Engage Community Champion. This was “in recognition of the impact you have in creating conversations around equality, diversity and inclusion that bring other voices into the discussion and encourage a culture of participation in your Viva Engage network”.

This is a collective achievement for all Network Rail colleagues who engaged in the posts as it directed the gift of $300 to various global charities. What initiated chit-chat is positively impacting lives in a small way and it also brought together like-minded colleagues in different geographic locations who connected through my stories in the posts.

I once came across the phrase ‘Don’t hog your own journey’ which has stuck with me. Our journey is full of

personal stories. We have a choice to keep things that have happened to ourselves or to share them with others who may benefit from our experiences. I chose the latter and I am so glad I did. We can never know exactly how many people we will reach and how we will impact others.

For me, my career journey and self-discovery are closely connected to my heritage too. It is great to see how South Asian Heritage Month is now marked across the industry having championed and introduced it into Network Rail for the first time back in 2020. I often recall my experience of trains in the Punjab of India when I lived there and the connection between Britain and India when it comes to the railway. Interesting fact: I live in London with the largest number of railway stations in the UK and the Punjab district Jalandhar where my parents are from has the highest number of railway stations in India.

So I was delighted to be invited to be part of A British tribute: 75 Years, 75 Women, 75 Words, a book compiled by Caroline Rowett the Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh, which was conceived in August 2022 when India was commemorating 75 years of its independence.

Two receptions to launch the book were held both in India and at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, London which I attended along with other women who featured in the book. It certainly was a memorable occasion.

In addressing attendees Caroline talked about how the book highlights the exceptional contributions of women who have strengthened the ‘living bridge’ between India and the UK - particularly of those from the Punjab who have settled or been born here. The book was a nod to the importance of women whose voices needed to be heard.

Caroline expressed her admiration for the women featured in the book, including politicians, civil servants, entrepreneurs, artists, journalists, and social activists, showcasing the diversity of talent and achievements flourishing in both countries. She said: “We are 75 and more. Here’s to all the others out there. Be seen. Be heard. Be celebrated.”

I’m proud to represent the railway in the book and I am proud, as I approach nearly two decades in the sector, that I have been bold to drive change and feel not only included but continue to inspire inclusion across the sector.

And my story in 75 words:

Born and raised in England, from early childhood I became connected to Punjab through my maternal family. Growing up I struggled with identity and belonging – East-West cultures and values clashed. The language, music, Sikh faith, and rich heritage drew me closer. As an adolescent, living in the Punjab left a life-long impression on me – an experience and education. Two cultures blended. The best of both. Each holds a special place in my heart.

For those interested in learning more about the mentoring programme, which launches again in April 2024, and how to get involved, please reach out by email wr@womeninrail.org or WRMentoringTeam@moving-ahead.org.

To become a member of SWIFT and attend the events for 2024 visit https://swift.womeninrail.org/

PEOPLE 46 March 2024

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More than 15 per cent of the UK population may identify as neurodivergent. Jo Lawrence from the Occupational Psychology Centre (OPC) shares thoughts about recruitment strategies for inclusion

Unlocking potential: Embracing neurodiversity in recruitment practices

The presence of neurodiversity in the workplace is becoming more widely acknowledged, with increased discussion and higher diagnosis rates. An estimated 15 per cent – 20 per cent of the UK population identify with a broad spectrum of cognitive variances like dyslexia, autism, or ADHD.

“As a minority, it’s key that we, as recruiters and employers, stay informed with the latest information, thinking and terminology and it’s very important that we have robust policies in place to support and safeguard neurodiverse individuals during recruitment and in the workplace,” said Jo Lawrence, Business Development Director at the OPC and OPC Assessment. “Ensuring a fair and accessible recruitment process has always been our mission at the OPC, whether neurotypical or neurodiverse.

“Neurodiverse individuals can feel isolated or vulnerable at work. They may fear appearing less capable or competitive in the job market and they sometimes struggle with tasks like concentration, memory, or time management. Yet, they can possess unique, beneficial talents like hyper-focus, technical proficiency, or creative problem-solving.

“Alarmingly, many leave jobs due to harassment or victimisation. So, as employers, we’re missing out on valuable, diverse talent. We’re also responsible, and should want to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support neurodiverse individuals. This is a tension we have to hold in a rule-bound and safety critical industry.”

With over 30 years’ experience in the rail industry, primarily in human resources, Jo’s expertise lies in the recruitment of safety critical roles, particularly specialising in UK train driver recruitment, but also offering her expertise to European and international rail businesses. Jo also serves as Compliance Officer on the Rail Assessment Centre Forum (RACF), passionately advocating for neurodiversity and equitable treatment of candidates, particularly in safety critical train driver recruitment.

“More neurodivergent individuals are openly disclosing their conditions,” she said. “When we support client recruitment projects, we emphasise open communication and sensitivity between recruiters, line managers, candidates, and the OPC. This is essential to understanding a candidate’s needs. Any potential adjustments need to be deemed

As employers, we could be missing out on valuable, diverse talent, and we should want to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support neurodiverse individuals

‘reasonable’ based on the job profile, its demands, and whether it’s safety critical or not.”

Navigating recruitment processes as a neurodivergent candidate can be daunting, but reasonable adjustments can greatly ease anxiety, allowing candidates to showcase their abilities better.

For example, a candidate may request an individual assessment setting, assistive technology, or extra time. However, supporting candidates extends beyond recruitment and into their journey within an organisation.

Jo said: “We need to ensure that any reasonable adjustments made during recruitment and selection are applicable during training and follow through into the job – ensuring fairness for all as well as empowering neurodiverse candidates to succeed.

“At the OPC, we are proactively implementing supportive measures for neurodiverse candidates. OPC Assessment recently released neurodiversity guidance for clients around assessment testing. Additionally, we’re creating an ‘extra time’ feature in Candela, our user-friendly online testing platform. We offer a wide range of practice tests for candidates and we’re currently developing video guidance for train driver assessment days to help everyone attending.

“Furthermore, we’ve recently developed some practical assessment tools, and visual content to assist candidates, particularly those with reading and writing difficulties. Keep an eye out later this year for a neurodiversity webinar that we’ll be hosting too.”

Jo concluded: “As we continue to navigate this evolving landscape, the OPC remains committed to driving positive change and promoting inclusivity in the workplace whilst balancing the tensions we hold in a safety critical industry. With the right policies and practices in place, we can create a more equitable and supportive environment for all employees to thrive in.”

About the OPC

The OPC are experts in occupation and business psychology. With over three decades of safety-critical expertise, the OPC delivers bespoke safety solutions that strive to improve team performance, identify talent and nurture a safer culture.

Visit https://www.theopc.co.uk/ for more details.

Email admin@theopc.co.uk

ADVERTORIAL 48 March 2024
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Mavin Powercube’s Russ Bartley says the team is proud to be involved with this project from the start

GCRE adds Powercube to South Wales site design

The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) and Mavin Powercube are delighted to announce a new collaboration. The alliance will see Mavin’s containerised ‘Powercube’ being used at the 700-hectare GCRE rail innovation site currently being constructed in South Wales.

The GCRE is a major new rail testing facility that is being supported by both the Welsh and UK Governments. GCRE will become Europe’s premier site for rail research, and testing and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure and cutting edge new energy technologies.

The partnership with Mavin Powercube will see the build of the new GCRE facility include a custom designed and built Powercube – a multi-unit, combined, Containerised Modular Data Centre (CMDC), Signal Equipment Room (SER) and an interconnecting Access and Staging Unit, that will support the extensive testing operations that will be carried out at the GCRE site.

The multi-purpose Powercube will help GCRE support clients with high quality data analysis as they undertake testing and research on the site’s two rail tracks – one, a 7km track for rolling stock testing and a second track for infrastructure innovation.

The Powercube solution will be pre-built, off-site in Neath, near the GCRE location at Onllwyn. Mavin Powercube has been a leader in the design and build of award-winning, custom, scalable and secure Containerised Modular Data Centres (CMDCs) and Containerised Critical Infrastructure since 2005. The Powercube has multiple applications, including Train Movement Rooms (TMR), Signal Equipment Rooms (SER), Electric Switch Rooms (ESR) and Communications Equipment Rooms (CER). It offers a 100 per cent custom, turnkey solution, and is built offsite using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), resulting in fast, flexible, scalable deployment and increased sustainability, as well as significantly reducing costs, site disruption and carbon emissions.

Chief Executive of GCRE Simon Jones:

“We are delighted to agree this partnership with Mavin and to utilise their cutting edge Powercube design at the Global Centre of Rail Excellence site.

“The ambition is to establish GCRE as Europe’s premier site for rail innovation, becoming a onestop shop for the rail sector, serving markets not just in the UK but across Europe and the Middle East. In providing world class research and testing facilities it is important that the supporting infrastructure that

we have on site is of the highest quality – and is as forward looking as the innovation we will be doing on our tracks.

“That’s what we get with the Mavin Powercube solution – an innovative, reliable and sustainable piece of technology that can help us support our clients with the rich suite of data analysis that we will be undertaking on site.

“The Powercube facility is to be designed and built near to the Global Centre of Rail Excellence site in Neath, so it’s fantastic to be able to tell a story of how GCRE is utilising local skills and supporting jobs in the area as we develop the facility.

“The Powercube utilises cutting-edge, off-site manufacturing processes, being delivered to site ready to go and mitigating lengthy site disruption. Critically it helps us to reduce the carbon emissions of our build with less on-site traffic.

“The partnership with Mavin Powercube will further enhance the capability and range of services offered on the GCRE site. By utilising the leadingedge data centre solution Mavin brings, GCRE is putting in strong foundations for the future.”

Mavin Powercube founder/Director Russ Bartley:

“We are extremely proud to be involved with this pivotal project from the start, and are looking forward to strengthening the partnership with GCRE over

the next few years, as opportunities for broader engagement with GCRE and other critical industries allow us to evolve our solutions to meet the demands of the future.

“Our build facility is based in Wales, so the positive outcomes for local people in terms of employment and opportunity are a key factor for us. This exciting project follows a successful partnership with TfL and the TIES Living Lab, where we pioneered the construction of a unique, custom, modular Signalling Equipment Room (SER).”

GCRE has procured the Powercube facility through a mutual partnership between Trustco PLC and Mavin Powercube, TrustMavin, enabling the Powercube solution to be reached by Government and Public Bodies via associated and appropriate frameworks, in this case the SBS Digital Workplace Solutions Framework. The framework offers a wide range of IT solutions to aid the wider public sector organisations in their digitisation journey, and satisfy their procurement requirements in an efficient, compliant and cost effective way.

For more information about GCRE please visit www.gcre.wales

For information on Mavin Powercube’s range of Containerised, Modular, Critical Infrastructure Solutions for the rail sector, visit www.mavin. global/critical-infrastructure or speak to the team on 0845 612 1155.

ADVERTORIAL 50 March 2024

A bold new company is poised to enter the railway signalling market

Leading the revolution: The start-up taking a universal approach to railway signalling

With an innovative approach incorporating a unique digital system that utilises existing hardware with a reimagined architecture, the solution is set to pave the way for rapid deployment – enabled by the holy grail of signalling systems: a universal interlocking.

Rather than outright competing for market share against incumbents, Universal Signalling aims to create an open ecosystem where thirdparty actors - including those not currently involved with signalling - can contribute to the development of compatible components, an ethos inspired by the conclusions of the recent ORR signalling market study.

A passion to improve the railway

Universal Signalling is led by an enthusiastic and experienced executive team, headed up by Chief Executive Dr Sam Bemment. Sam is a multi-awardwinning engineer and innovator who has worked across numerous railway engineering disciplines, clocking up over 18 years of research, engineering, management, operations and consulting experience. He has spent the majority of this in rail.

Sam is supported by COO Stephen Head MBA, CTO Dr Nick Wright, and CFO Sarah Ashworth.

Stephen is former head of fleet at both Heathrow Express and Caledonian Sleeper, and played a central role in the ETCS for Freight programme for three years. He is also known to many across the industry as a former chair of the Young Rail Professionals. Nick has a PhD in nuclear control systems, and has spent many years since as a railway signalling software development specialist. Sarah started her career in audit at the big four but has more recently earned a track record of helping grow startups and scaleups to success. The wider team is steadily growing through direct hires into a range of roles.

Universal Signalling’s staff all have a passion to improve the railway. Their mission is to bring change to the worldwide railway signalling market through a unique blend of technology, operating model and open interface specification.

Next generation digital signalling

ETCS (European Train Control System) is mandated in interoperability standards as the UK mainline successor to all existing signalling systems. In the UK, ETCS has been re-branded as ‘digital signalling’, mainly to create an easier soundbite for the media, but to make out this is the first time signalling has been ‘digital’ is not true: it has been since the very first mechanical interlocking computers in the 1830s. Digital, in this sense, refers to the radio link to train cabs transmitting data, not voice.

I should start by saying there’s nothing wrong with ETCS: it does what it was specified to do. But every system has drawbacks
ADVERTORIAL 52 March 2024
GCRE will be our fi rst proper heavy-rail endto-end demo: not just of the technical aspects, but of the whole project lifecycle

ETCS has, as of last year, been rolled out on relatively small parts of the UK network in first-in-class projects. Timescales for the ongoing fitment to ECML, in the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) will be measured in decades. Whilst costs are projected to fall longer term, current projects cost what the whole industry has acknowledged is unsustainable. According to Sam, this has serious implications over the coming few decades: “I should start by saying there’s nothing wrong with ETCS: it does what it was specified to do. But every system has drawbacks. The drawbacks in this case are the very high cost and long timescales. Cost and timescale aren’t driven by what electronics go in any particular box. They are driven by the project lifecycle and the difficulty in integration and migration through the design, review, installation, test and assurance cycle. The more complex the infrastructure, the more fringe interfaces, the higher the cost. Unfortunately, most of our railway is pretty complex; a mixed-use railway like ECDP is dealing with, even more so.”

“65 per cent of UK signalling is up for renewal in the next 15 years. At current unit rates this is completely unaffordable. That’s why Network Rail started the Target190+ programme. To all accounts, they are making good progress.”

“However, even if they are 100 per cent successful, the business case for fitting ETCS to many rural lines will simply never add up. Scotland, for example, have already declared it isn’t their future. There is then a choice: close the railway, or fit a lower-cost system which inevitably has big drawbacks in some way, typically reliability, capacity or maintainability terms. None of those are good outcomes. We thought there had to be a better way.”

Evolution or revolution?

The Target 190+ programme which Sam describes is being led by Network Rail, with many supply chain partners. To date, around £60m of public funding has been invested, with much more pencilled in for CP7. The goal is to lower the SEU rate to £190k, a cost which has been deemed sustainable for future renewals.

“Our challenges are very different. It’s a case of evolution vs revolution,” Sam added, “Target 190+ is taking a known, developed system which doesn’t meet UK PLC’s requirements in terms of outright cost, and trying to evolve that system to be a marginally cheaper. It’s outputs are never going to be revolutionary, but they aren’t meant to be.”

“In contrast, we said, forget the technology, let’s set ourselves some wild targets for cost and deployment time, and see how we could achieve them.

“We basically ‘Rubber Ducked’ signalling. That’s a software term where you explain something, in simple terms, to an inanimate object. The duck doesn’t talk back - unless you’re losing your marbles - but the act of explaining every step really makes you think it through.”

“If something has always taken, say, five years, it is natural to ask if it can be done in four – that’s a 20 per cent saving – great! But what we said was, ‘how could we do it in a day?’ Five years to one day is like learning to walk vs landing on the moon. Revolutionary, moonshot innovation is where the big prizes are. BCIMO and GCRE are ideal for an SME like us to quickly reduce the technology risk, we simply couldn’t do it without. We’re very proud of our concept, but now the hard work starts.”

Demonstration is the key

Universal Signalling is currently busy building its first two real-world demonstrators. The first is being fitted at the BCIMO very light rail centre in Dudley, tailored for light rail operations. It will be ready in April this year.

“What we’re proposing is a big enough change that we need to demonstrate it to be credible. We actually built our first demo out of Lego in my living room. We were pretty sure the industry wouldn’t accept this as an adequate demonstrator, so we knew we had to go a bit bigger”, Sam joked. “At Dudley, we’re not just demonstrating the technical system, we are shaking down our installation procedure, verifying the time it takes, and tailoring aspects specific to light rail ops.”

Following this, the team will be installing a heavyrail version on GCRE during the summer and autumn, majority funded by InnovateUK and the Department for Business and Trade.

“GCRE will be our first proper heavy-rail end-to-end demo: not just of the technical aspects, but of the whole project lifecycle. There will be lots of time to invite third parties along to show them the opportunities to integrate and develop with us. Both will remain as amazing demos for potential end users from all over the world. We’re very excited.”

Showcasing the solution

Universal Signalling will be holding live demonstrations of its two in-track technology demonstrators, showcasing light and heavy rail deployments. To register your interest in attending the demonstration days please visit: universalsignalling.com/demo-dayregistration.

For more information visit: universalsignalling.com

ADVERTORIAL 53 March 2024

STAUFF UK is a global leader in the hydraulics industry.

Operations Director Ken Cleal says there is much more to give, particularly when it comes to rolling stock refurbishment and plant

The solution providers

There will be no escaping a touch of STAUFF on any new-build train built in the UK in the last quarter of a century. The company is a global leader in hydraulics, with the UK arm a specialist in the supply of loose components, manufacturing facilities for hose assemblies, sub assembly kitting and manipulated tube operations.

The company offers the rail industry time and cost-saving solutions, driven through its STAUFF Line concept, which also incorporates the sourcing and supply of third party products. This means procurement teams now only need to order half a dozen parts, whereas in the past it could have been in

the hundreds. The work reduces assembly on already busy production lines.

“We are the solution finders, with the expertise to design it, prototype it, and build it, with the focus to aid the customer with the supply of something that brings the cost and the weight down,” said Ken Cleal, Operations Director at STAUFF UK.

“We have more than 25 years of knowledge in the industry so we know what is required, adhere to all the specifications and standards, and can provide products that stand the test of time. But we have more to give, particularly when it comes to the refurbishment of rolling stock and the plant that is used to build the railways.”

STAUFF UK is part of the STAUFF Group, which worldwide for more than 50 years has been manufacturing, developing, and distributing pipework components and accessories for mechanical and plant engineering for service and industrial maintenance of fluid power delivery lines.

The overall range currently comprises about 50,000 standard products, including clamping solutions for pipes, tube and hose, tube fittings, flanges, quick release couplings, hose protection and diagnostic test couplings for use in both hydraulic and non-hydraulic industries. The offering also extends to pneumatic lines and includes bracketry, sub-assembly and lineside A-Frame supply.

ADVERTORIAL 54 March 2024

“We supply rigid stainless steel tubing, aluminium tubing, steel tubing, copper tubing, all the different materials, and we can bend every kind of material you could ever imagine,” said Ken, who has been supplying rolling stock manufacturers for 27 years, 14 while working for STAUFF UK. “A lot of what we do for rolling stock is classed as a ‘fit and forget’ because it will be there for the lifespan of the train with little or in most cases no need for maintenance. Even the flexible hose assemblies generally last eight to 10 years.

“We’ve carried out some refurb work such as when old catering cars have been refurbished and all the catering equipment has been taken out, but there is more in this field that we can do. Due to the diversity of our tube manipulation skillset and the equipment that we have, not everything we supply is of fluid transfer or air transfer. Interior grab handles, luggage racks, and bicycle racks have got manipulated tube on them, and we have the capability to provide that.

“Another area of potential growth for us is plant machinery, which includes hydraulic machines. We have always been successful and fantastic in providing those parts and systems on the trains that run on that track so there is a huge potential to get involved in the plant machines as well.”

Ken is also urging organisations to involve STAUFF UK earlier on in the design process in joint design development programmes.

“Too often we are brought onto a project when it is too late to change anything, despite our expertise and design departments who might have a better solution,” he said. “My message would be to get us involved in the beginning and utilise our skillset, particularly when we can offer cost and weight savings.

“We have innovative products where we can bring weight out, and with our excellent bending equipment, we can bend exceptionally complex geometries which can take fittings away. We have innovations we are working on now which are going to be of huge interest to the train building companies. Getting us on board in the design stage we will be able to get organisations from A to B a lot cheaper and lighter and still meet all of the requirements of the rail industry.”

A key to the company’s success has been its employees’ commitment to customer service and meeting the industry’s needs. This is epitomised through its 5S programme (sort, set in order, shine, standardise, and sustain) which focuses on the establishment of visual order, organisation, cleanliness, and standardisation in order to improve profitability, efficiency, service and safety. The programme was a key part of establishing a Visual Workplace, a system of continual improvement, which is a component of lean manufacturing. It involved all departments at every level.

“It has been fantastic at STAUFF UK, and being part of a family-owned business at which the owners continue to have a huge passion for the business and a desire to keep growing, moving forward with innovations and continuous improvement,” said Ken, who was appointed Operations Director last year.

“The future does look good, with a very good young team coming through as well and a future talent pool

who are being mentored, and I’m pleased to be a part of it.

“We have continuous improvement process boards where every team member within the business is encouraged to bring forward thoughts and ideas for improvements within the business, which could be efficiency improvements, but also health and safety and the environment. We have created a Green Team which drives forward our green credentials on recycled materials, different packaging methods and paper elimination. There is a huge focus on that, emphasised by the recent installation of 1,500 solar panels at our Sheffield facility, new run of EV car chargers and the moving of the company fleet over to electric cars.

“It’s all exciting stuff so I would love to see out my final 10/15 years of employment at STAUFF for sure, playing my part in helping the company to flourish and seeing the company play an important role in the success of the rail industry.”

STAUFF UK has been certified as part of RISQS under the stewardship of Rail Safety and Standards Board and all certified products are in line with EN45545-2 HL3, NFPA 130, EN 15540 and more.

Visit https://stauff.co.uk/ for more details.

My message would be to get us involved in the beginning and utilise our skillset particularly when we can offer cost and weight savings
ADVERTORIAL 55 March 2024

It is more than three years since the Railway Industry Association and Women in Rail launched the EDI Charter. Current Vice Chair Ben Evans explains his involvement and the journey ahead in creating industry change

Driving the next chapter for the EDI Charter

“Working together to build a diverse railway family which represents our communities and evolving society, advocating for difference to foster an inclusive and supportive culture that allows our colleagues to bring their true and complete selves to work every day.”

That is the mission statement for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter, which was founded by the Railway Industry Association (RIA) and Women in Rail (WR), and is entering its fourth year with the backing of more than 220 organisations, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to the principles of EDI.

“I passionately believe that whatever form rail industry reform ultimately takes, it is not just an opportunity for a step change in EDI, but that diversity of thought, personality and leadership are in fact essential to bringing together a fragmented industry and delivering a railway for its customers,” said the current EDI Charter Vice Chair Ben Evans.

“Having worked across many different industries in my career, some of the best and most successful projects that I’ve ever worked on have been where you have had a real diversity of people in a psychologically safe environment where everybody’s voice is valued. Those experiences are amongst the many motivations for me pushing for change along with being somebody who has always felt a need to speak up for those who are underrepresented.”

Ben is New Business Director for Transportation at AtkinsRéalis and the business has been fully supportive of his role with the EDI Charter Working Group. The group is made up of diverse individuals from across the industry, whose mission is to ensure that the sector is inclusive and listening to all the different perspectives and voices in rail.

“There is an exceptional amount of energy and commitment among people to drive the change,” he said. “There’s a lot of great work around raising awareness, but I still see many fundamental assumptions, stereotypes, and cultural and social structures, most of which have been around for

hundreds, if not thousands of years. Changing those is going to be the real challenge, but it is a challenge I, and the Working Group, are absolutely up for.”

Excellent progress is being made on that journey, thanks to the work of the EDI Charter Working Group and its signatories. In the last year alone, challenges have been tackled head-on with members embracing the importance of accountability, and the industry’s collective efforts laying the foundation for transformative change.

It is an industry change that needs to happen and that is going to need us all to work together
EDI Charter for Rail Annual Report 2023 launch event with Chair Mandeep Singh
EDI 56 March 2024
We owe it to ourselves and future generations to build on the great steps taken so far to break down the barriers in how we think and go about doing business

For Ben, the attention turns to the journey ahead, with the Working Group intending to further the overall mission by dedicating itself to four key pillars of action: education and events, signatory engagement, communications and knowledge sharing, and EDI charter and industry reporting.

Charter commitments and check in

The statement for signatory companies is that the organisation pledges to promote equality, diversity and inclusion by:

Appointing a member of the senior leadership team as an ‘EDI Champion’.

Agreeing an action plan and monitoring progress made, including in RIA’s annual reporting to their AGM and Women in Rail’s annual report. Also, progress to be demonstrated on RIA, Women in Rail, and signatories’ websites.

Providing opportunities for training and education of employees to help tackle unconscious bias and negative behaviours within workforces.

Creating a culture that fosters inclusion and encourages “quiet voices”, including at industry events and meetings, through 360 feedback on senior and executive teams and reverse mentoring, thus providing a safe space for all employees to talk openly.

Making recruitment and progression processes accessible and attractive to all to attract, retain and develop people of all backgrounds, ages, genders, and identities.

“In previous years there has quite rightly been a lot of work around awareness raising and knowledge sharing, but over the next year I’d like things to be taken to the next level in terms of helping signatories be a bit more targeted in the areas that really matter to them and to make that stick,” he said.

One particular area of success has been the launch last year of the monthly Signatory Forums which are held online to create a space for signatories to come together, hear about examples of best practice from other organisations and get answers to their EDI queries.

Ben, who joined the Working Group last April, said: “For me, this is very much about the whole industry rather than just individual organisations so platforms such as the Signatory Forum are very important.

“It is heartening to see such a level of commitment from organisations. However, to really get the benefits it is an industry change that needs to happen and that is going to need us all to work together.”

Ben’s passion for driving change in the industry comes from his own personal experiences and determination to overcome hurdles in his life. He has spoken openly about his mental health battles, suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.

As a founding member of AtkinsRéalis Health & Wellbeing Steering Committee he found himself needing the employee support services that he’d actually helped to put in place.

Ben, who put himself forward to represent his division on the committee after turning his own life around, including transforming from an 18 stone drinker and smoker to a British Championship standard half and full marathon runner, said: “It is wrong to think of depression and suicide as a sign of weakness. It took me far too long to seek out the help I needed, but counselling allowed me to see that my

determination to always achieve the best outcomes for those around me had turned into self-expectations that I could never possibly reach.

“I talk openly about my journey because it has connected me with many other men whose outgoing, self-assured personalities and charisma are masking an ever-worsening state of mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Health and wellbeing is really important to me and I guess that is where the EDI element has also come from because I see really strong links between the two. Wellbeing in the workplace and EDI are both so intertwined and actually it was through the Wellbeing Steering Committee that I started getting more involved in EDI initiatives within my own business. Then the opportunity to get involved with an industry-wide charter was too good to miss.”

Overall, Ben says he is in a far better place, describing the last year as the best of his career so far, and one that wasn’t just fun but also in which he has more fully discovered who he is and the positive impact he can make, and the confidence to be true to himself in everything he does. This is something he is also instilling into the industry through his work on the EDI Charter Working Group.

“I am very optimistic for the future of the rail industry as in my experience it’s a pretty fantastic one to work in. There’s a sense of community and family which I haven’t really felt in other sectors,” he said. “Yes, there are things that need to change, but we shouldn’t forget the many positives that we have to work with.

“The opportunity for change is one that I hope we will all grasp. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to build on the great steps taken so far to break down the barriers in how we think and go about doing business.”

RIA and WR continue to welcome new signatories to the charter – if your organisation is interested in signing up, please contact info@edicharter.co.uk. You can read the latest EDI Charter Annual Report here: https://issuu.com/railindustry/docs/4470_ria_ edi_annual_report-online2/4

Half Marathon Team Bronze Medal for Great Britain at the 2023 World Masters Athletics Championships in Finland World Menopause Day with Network Rail at Birmingham New Street Station
EDI 58 March 2024

While no single energy source, fuel or technology is expected to solve every environmental challenge, hydrogen and fuel cells are emerging as critical elements of the UK’s energy transition – the journey towards a clean, low-carbon UK energy system

Adelan: Fuelling the transport solutions of the future

One company leading the hydrogen revolution is West Midlands-based Adelan, which has been developing hydrogen technology for over 30 years. The firm develops low-carbon generator products based on its unique fuel cell system, as well as green hydrogen generators. Adelan is building strategic partnerships with customers looking to decarbonise their products and businesses.

Adelan is led by Dr Michaela Kendall, the UK Hydrogen Champion who plays a key role in building national fuel cell strategies. Over a 30-year career, Dr Kendall has secured more than $40 million in funding, working with powerful strategic policy and technical networks vital to low-carbon businesses that can deliver energy transition, including the US EPA, the UN, the EU and national governments.

Leading a hydrogen technology-based energy revolution

Adelan is currently leading on UK fuel cell policy with national and regional players in the Midlands. Through the Clean Futures Accelerator programme, the firm is demonstrating and integrating its hydrogen-ready fuel cell technology on different transport applications at the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation’s (BCIMO) Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley, West Midlands.

The firm is seeking collaborative partners in the transport industry to address the energy challenges facing the sector and to scale up practical solutions. The technology provides stationary and propulsive power, and is especially useful off-grid.

Adelan’s technology, a hydrogen-ready Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC), is a highly energy-efficient power generation system that generates energy by chemically reacting fuel and oxygen, and supplies both heat and electricity. However, unlike many fuel cell technologies, Adelan’s fully patented and scalable technology gives the fuel cell the ability to run on a range of commonly available low molecular weight hydrocarbon fuels too like propane, propane/butane mix, LNG and natural gas – as well as industrial hydrogen, the less pure form that is already produced around the UK.

It’s widely acknowledged that scaling up hydrogen infrastructure will require significant time and substantial investment and this multi-fuel capability allows operators to gain all the advantages that fuel cell technologies offer while the hydrogen sector scales. It saves money too, because it uses less fuel.

ADVERTORIAL 60 March 2024
The UK has got to move on, not just for the industrial benefi ts, but also because we need these technologies to solve climate change

With the Adelan system able to run on hydrogen and other fuels, this unprecedented operational flexibility delivers substantial ease of use benefits whilst retaining a small, compact and lightweight footprint.

Turning challenges into opportunities

While some have lamented the UK’s net zero climate targets and their implications for businesses, there are also unique opportunities for innovation and enterprise, as Dr Kendall explained: “I’ve heard people say in meetings that climate change regulations are going to be the death of industry in the Midlands and that may be a view that some people have locally.

“However, I see it as the complete opposite. I think hydrogen technology is a huge opportunity for the Midlands because we have this incredible manufacturing ecosystem, knowledge base and then an innovative manufacturing space with connections between universities, new engineering companies, manufacturers and more. So, for me, it’s the ideal place to take advantage of this opportunity and build national capabilities.”

She added: “The UK has got to move on, not just for the industrial benefits, but also because we need these technologies to solve climate change.

“We’re seeing in the investment world that investors have already turned a corner and are divesting away from fossil fuels and combustion technologies and are actively funding in the clean tech space, so things like carbon-reducing technology, fuel and energy efficiency are becoming more considered.”

Adelan already holds annual hydrogen pitch events for investors in London, and Chairs the Midlands Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Network (MHFCN). Through the Clean Futures Accelerator programme, led by Connected Places Catapult and BCIMO, Adelan is seeking collaborative partners in the transport sectors to introduce the concept of SOFCs and to scale up the deployment of the technology as a viable clean energy solution.

As Dr Kendall outlined: “We need to be building up capacity in the Midlands and we’re looking for deployers of these solutions, because ultimately that’s what will anchor the value of this technology in the UK.”

Trialling solid oxide fuel technology on rail freight – a case study

Last year, Adelan demonstrated the decarbonisation potential of SOFC for the rail industry, by using its SOFC technology to run a locomotive on near net zero carbon emission Bio Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Bio-LPG) to generate power for auxiliary loads.

Colas Rail UK partnered with Adelan and engineering firm G-Volution to work on a project to install an SOFC into a Class 37 locomotive to power the auxiliary systems. The proof of concept was successfully showcased at Colas Rail UK’s Rugby Depot in September 2023, with over 40 delegates witnessing a demonstration of the SOFC innovation providing power for the exterior and interior lighting of the locomotive.

Route simulations by the University of Birmingham using a 35kW SOFC showed that for a typical Class 37 operation using two locomotives this approach would save on average 50 tonnes (12 per cent) of CO2e per annum and combined with an average 8 per cent reduction in fuel costs.

Other benefits brought by this approach are improved air quality (zero particulate matter and nitrogen oxides are produced by the SOFC) and a significant reduction in noise and engine idling.

Highlighting the trial’s success, Paul Conway, Colas Rail UK’s Head of Engineering and Compliance said: “Innovation with a focus on decarbonisation is essential given the challenge to reduce dependency on fossil fuel. This trial has proven that a lower carbon option is available for auxiliary power generation. It’s still early days for this technology but it’s an excellent start and something that Colas Rail Services have been proud to be a part of”.

Identifying scalable applications in rail

Investments in clean technology are on the rise, but many organisations are still unclear about the application and practical use of fuel cells. Dr Kendall explained how Adelan can support the transport sector through strategic partnerships to realise the possibilities: “We know that there are a few promising technologies, but the technologies that grab the headlines are factory electric vehicles and hydrogen (fuel cell) electric vehicles. What companies operating in the rail industry need to understand is that because these technologies are new, they will need to work with proof-of-concept products. They’ll need to trial these products, and, in some cases, they won’t be able to predict where the technology goes.”

Dr Kendall continued: “There are some off-theshelf products that Adelan can provide support and due diligence on, and we can showcase the quick wins where, for example, other countries are using hydrogen fuel or technologies in rail applications. What we’re looking for is a scalable application of the technology we produce today. Hydrogen-based solutions are normally quite specific, so for example, there might be a certain size of fuel cell, then you have to tailor the technology, or it might be an off-the-shelf product. We can advise on that specifically.”

She concluded: “With almost 30 years of trading we’re the longest-standing fuel cell business in the UK and that creates a lot of trust with our customers and suppliers. We can have open conversations and suggest hydrogen-based solutions to help them solve their problems, whether that’s using our fuel-cell technology or someone else’s within the hydrogen network.”

Adelan runs the Midlands Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Network, which coordinates the UK’s hydrogen supply chain ecosystem. The MHFCN was set up in 2017 to represent the Midlands’ pioneering fuel cell and hydrogen activities. Adelan chairs the Network and the Network Business Forum, co-organising the UK’s largest hydrogen conference which takes place annually in Birmingham for 30 years. They coordinate with other regional hydrogen clusters to form a national network that speaks to government with one voice. For more information visit adelan.co.uk and find MHFCN on LinkedIn

ADVERTORIAL 61 March 2024
What is the key to successful transport-led regeneration? Clients who understand and champion good design, says Director for Transport at John McAslan + Partners, Colin Bennie.

Harnessing design to de-risk transport projects

In 2012, a renewed King’s Cross station became the catalyst for one of the UK’s - and the world’s - most successful transport-led urban regenerations. Work at King’s Cross/St Pancras began more than 20 years ago, and some £2.5 billion has been invested in transport infrastructure in the precinct since 2002.

The project started with phased improvements to the London Underground; progressed to the St Pancras renewal and expansion; and culminated with John McAslan + Partners’ steel and glass Western Concourse. This new space created a heart for the station and a new square and public space in Central London.

From the underused, neglected remnants of an industrial past grew a vibrant neighbourhood with new streets, squares, parks, homes, shops, workplace, retail and even a university. King’s Cross was no longer ‘just a rail station’. The regeneration changed how we think about rail infrastructure in the UK and demonstrated the catalytic impact it can have on economic and urban growth.

What were the ingredients for its success and where have similar outcomes been achieved? A review of global examples shows that clarity of vision and the quality and consistency of design input is the common denominator.

At King’s Cross, a project-specific delivery structure

reflected long-term phasing, development potential and funding mechanisms. Initial planning aligned the aspirations of statutory authorities, stakeholders and local communities, alongside a partnership agreement for development of publicly acquired land.

Investment in the new Belfast Grand Central, due to open in 2025, puts the transport hub at the centre of a masterplan for a new neighbourhood. Extensive community and stakeholder engagement gathered support for residential-led outline proposals that will set the standard for future development. Grand Central will be a gateway and new destination in the middle of the city.

Back in London, Bond Street, on the Elizabeth line for Crossrail, has created a new point of arrival into London’s West End and has been integral to the reinvigoration of one of the city’s most elegant, distinctive neighbourhoods.

Over at Australia’s busiest rail terminus, the Sydney Metro Central Station Upgrade has replaced a labyrinth of gloomy corridors with a light-filled new concourse. An urban room with a soaring roof, it amplifies the existing heritage architecture and has transformed precinct permeability on the edge of the CBD.

One stop away at Waterloo Station, an integrated team worked across development, investment, design

and engineering on an urban renewal project with the new rail station at its core. Design links the station intrinsically to the site’s rich physical, social, industrial and cultural history, including Indigenous history dating back thousands of years.

And in New York City, our work on the Penn Station Regeneration, with local collaboration partners WSP and FXC, will reconfigure a cramped station into a first-class transit hub that will provide an uplifting experience for 600,000 daily users.

In each example, success is underpinned by early stakeholder and contractor engagement, rigorous planning and guideline definition and beautiful architecture. Committed teams of consultants and stakeholders worked together towards a shared goal. Strong placemaking and civic pride flow naturally as a result.

Population growth, a housing crisis and a climate emergency make an urgent and compelling case for transport-led regeneration in the UK. Success relies on commitment to principles across political cycles and clients who understand and champion good design, which reduces risk. It sets up transport infrastructure projects to reach their potential and make life better for communities everywhere, by driving cultural, economic and social growth.

Visit https://www.mcaslan.co.uk/ for more details.

Colin Bennie. Image: Rob Clayton
ADVERTORIAL 62 March 2024
King’s Cross Station by John McAslan + Partners. Image: Hufton + Crow
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Richard Schofield has been appointed the new CEO of Project Leaders. He tells Rail Director more about the opportunity to grow and to bring even greater benefit to the rail and energy sectors and beyond

Bringing the solutions to the most complex of rail projects

Project Leaders is the go-to organisation for the most complicated of projects in desperate need of expert support to get them back on track. Its services range from consultancy support for programme managers to the provision of turnkey teams.

The organisation’s importance to the UK rail industry is emphasised by the projects it has advised on; from the latter stages of Crossrail through to the Transpennine Route Upgrade, which is firmly gaining traction into its delivery phases. Its approach varies from challenging the status quo of firmly embedded systems in need of change, through to slotting professionals into existing delivery teams where opportunities have been identified.

“Project Leaders features the best of the best and started off as a railway project management consultancy, stemming out of a few people that worked on the Thameslink project at Blackfriars,” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Schofield. “We are quite small and bespoke featuring people who will roll their sleeves up and get stuck in to deliver a project rather than sit in an office and give you a report that says your project is running one month later than it was a month ago.

“There are too many organisations kicking around telling you how bad everything is, believing that is their job. I don’t believe that to be the case at all, the job is to make the project come to life because that is ultimately what the client is paying for. We add that injection of very good people who are very efficient at getting things done.”

Project Leaders has worked on diverse projects, including cooling the Tube, Kings Cross station redevelopment, and operational efficiency improvements on the Jubilee line in its infant years. In recent years it has contributed to iconic transportation programmes such as the Thameslink programme for Blackfriars and London Bridge stations, the integration and planning of renewals and enhancements in Anglia, High Speed 1 planning and delivery of a renewals programme, and planning and ensuring delivery of the last 2.5 years of the

ADVERTORIAL 64 March 2024

Crossrail Programme prior to opening.

Recently it has provided schedule and assurance support to the Transpennine Route Upgrade and programme leadership to the Gatwick Station re-development.

Richard might be one of the newer members of the team, having been appointed CEO last November, but has long been an admirer of the organisation, having worked with the team both during his role as Managing Director at the MTR Elizabeth line and prior to that as Network Rail’s Route Managing Director in the Anglia region.

“What I admired was the fact that they had the best people, were very good at what they did and the fact they were very practical,” said Richard. “When I was at Network Rail, I needed an organisation to come and look after my big project portfolio. Project Leaders did just that and were my controlling mind and delivered on everything; my relationship grew from there.

“Particularly during blockades in which failure to hand back the line in time had a huge cost implication as well as credibility, Project Leaders produced a process that would give me absolute confidence on whether a project could be achieved on time. If they said it would be ok, then I would sleep perfectly knowing it would get delivered. If they were nervous, I would immediately intervene.

“When I went to MTR, Project Leaders were brought into the Crossrail project when it was starting to get it back on its feet. They did the planning for all of the two and a half years of the project, prior to opening, so I was working very closely with them on that. That was one of the greatest projects I have ever worked on and is highly thought of all over the world.”

As the new Chief Executive Officer of Project Leaders, Richard has been tasked with growth, explaining that this will be achieved incrementally and with the principles of employing the very best people, being customer-centric and trading in a very ethical way.

“We’re at a point and size in which we can carry on being profitable, but there is a desire to make it bigger,” he said. “It will be incremental growth and not about profit at all costs, and it is about having more of the very best people who can help the industries we are working in.

“The strategy is to work with the clients we’ve got to maintain the business we have in rail, as well as explore opportunities with new clients, be they in the UK or abroad. We always want to remain predominantly a UK-based business, but there is also huge potential in Australia, North America, and the Middle East.

“We will also be exploring beyond the boundaries of rail operations, and we recognise a promising prospect: the seamless transition of skills. Whether you’re managing a possession in Network Rail or navigating an outage in the power sector, the skillset remains remarkably alike. This opens avenues beyond rail, into domains like energy supply and water management. We’re keen to explore these opportunities, leveraging the vast pool of transferable skills at our disposal”.

Project Leaders is predominantly called upon for projects with costs that have escalated and initial deadlines that have been and gone. With that in mind, Richard is urging organisations to think about getting its experts involved earlier, something which in the long run will likely save them time and money.

“A company like ours should want every rail project to be late because that means my phone will never stop ringing with clients asking for help,” he said. “But if we’re really going to be ethical and work with the industry, we actually want the industry to get better at delivering things on time and on budget.

“We love getting into a problem and solving it, but it doesn’t mean it has to be two weeks after the project was due to have been completed. It can only be a good thing if we get involved earlier in a programme with a client preventing it going wrong or minimising the cost and overrun.”

Richard has already got off to an excellent start at the helm of Project Leaders. He has introduced a management board which will provide strategic guidance, diverse expertise and structured decision making which will be essential for navigating complexities and ensuring sustainable growth. Additionally, he has already secured a rail contract in Melbourne, as the company starts to branch out of the UK. Moreover, he has recently appointed seasoned and accomplished Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Alison Bell as the new People and Communications Director.

“Being CEO at Project Leaders is more about doing something that I will be proud of that will help grow a legacy in terms of business,” he said. “This feels more a labour of love than a job, working with some brilliant people, doing a bit of mentoring, developing people, and solving problems in the industry whether that be a major re-signalling scheme, supporting TransPennine or Crossrail.

“I am hugely excited about the future, especially with Alison’s appointment. While it may seem a bit extravagant to have a People and Communications Director for a small team, she is excellent. Alison will play a pivotal role in recruiting top talent, providing training and development opportunities, and ensuring the retention of our current team members. Her expertise in communication is outstanding, which

will not only facilitate internal communication but also enhance the visibility of Project Leaders externally.

“For me, the priority is to traverse the broadening of industries, ensuring that we continue to bring in the very best people. This also includes looking to apprenticeships and graduates, whereas in the past we have only really recruited experienced people.

“Overall, I am hugely excited for the future. In the space of three months, I’ve gone from looking to where the opportunity is out there, to actually thinking we need to pick and choose what we do because we don’t want to spread ourselves too thinly.”

Welcoming Richard’s appointment, Robert Lines, Chair, said: “With a wealth of infrastructure expertise, industry ties and strong leadership, Richard is our catalyst for a dynamic future, set to elevate our capacity and capabilities.

“As CEO, he’s steering us through challenges, turning them into growth opportunities. Expect a thriving client base, empowering teams, and a fresh influx of talent. Taking the Chair’s seat from Clive Wheatley, I’m eager to leverage my relationships and expertise to propel Richard and the management board towards success. Brace for a transformative era at Project Leaders.”

Visit www.projectleaders.co.uk/ for more details.

We are quite small and bespoke featuring people who will roll their sleeves up and get stuck in to deliver a project
ADVERTORIAL 65 March 2024

Kennedy Hamilton, Survey Manager at QTS Group, writes about how embracing rail digitalisation methods will improve rail survey effi ciencies

On track for the future

Rail contractors are looking towards new and innovative ways that will allow them to meet demand and work efficiently. As a result, the industry is placing an onus on digital technologies to drive forward greater productivity and make rail survey methods as seamless as possible throughout 2024.

At QTS Group, we’ve been using a variety of new technologies in recent months to streamline survey operations, enhance data collection, conduct thorough analysis, and ultimately, improve project outcomes.

Making greater use of drones

Drones are becoming increasingly popular across the industry for rail inspections and surveys, offering numerous advantages in terms of efficiency, safety, and volume of data captured. The integration of this technology provides a detailed desktop view of rail infrastructure, allowing for comprehensive aerial

inspections and analysis of tracks, bridges, tunnels, and other structures. However, the use of drones goes far beyond this, with the devices enabling rapid data collection which, crucially, reduces survey timelines and minimises disruption to rail operations.

Making greater use of drones drastically alleviates pressures for survey workers as one drone can be used to survey a mile and a half of railway corridor in less than a day’s work. The stark reality is that without embracing this technology, teams could spend up to a week carrying out the same work.

What’s more, fitted with high-resolution cameras, drones capture incredibly detailed images, facilitating visual assessments and identification of potential issues before they become a major hindrance. These images can be used to create high-resolution aerial maps, 3D models, and topographic surveys of the rail infrastructure, data which is essential for planning and design and aids construction purposes.

Increased use of drones across the survey

industry has been driven by the evolution of the products themselves. For example, many are now equipped with built-in high precision GPS for overall position accuracy, and camera sensors enabling them to capture high-resolution images to generate 3D models and detailed Orthomosaic aerial maps. Low-cost Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors are utilised to obtain detail within dense vegetation and other valuable data. These are all essential for rail surveying, including remote monitoring and inspections of rail infrastructure. This reduces the need for a physical presence at the site, which minimises the need to take line blockages and reduces travel-related emissions and the environmental impact of on-site surveying activities.

Benefitting from BIM

Building Information Modelling (BIM) offers advantages throughout every stage of a project,

TECHNOLOGY 66 March 2024









Operations wide, results focused, digital management; improving performance and increasing capacity.

Operations wide, results focused, digital management; improving performance and increasing capacity.

Real time, disruption management. Plan optimum stock and crew utilisation; improving service resilience and customer satisfaction.

Real time, disruption management. Plan optimum stock and crew utilisation; improving service resilience and customer satisfaction.

Digital platform with automated movement authorities. Integrates with all interlockings and any TMS; reducing the cost of operations and infrastructure renewals.

Digital platform with automated movement authorities. Integrates with all interlockings and any TMS; reducing the cost of operations and infrastructure renewals.

Customer communication, data gathering and analytics; delivering personalised engagement and informed journeys.

Customer communication, data gathering and analytics; delivering personalised engagement and informed journeys.

Technology is a huge investment and comes with initial costs, but it pays for itself in the long term

including planning, design, construction, and maintenance, and in 2024, there will be an undeniable shift to better utilising BIM across the industry as businesses seek to reap the benefits of innovative technology.

BIM allows the creation of detailed 3D digital models of rail infrastructure, including tracks, stations, bridges, tunnels, and other elements. Empowered with a digital representation, survey workers gain a better visualisation and understanding of the project from the outset, allowing them to strategize and plan their outputs accordingly.

Additionally, the technology facilitates the integration of accurate survey data into a centralised digital model. This can include topographical information, track alignments, material specifications, dimensions, cost estimates, performance criteria, and maintenance information –all of which can save countless hours of manual time for businesses.

It also supports clash detection, helping users to identify and resolve conflicts between different components or disciplines within the rail project such as track alignment, electrification, and signalling. This helps the rail industry to avoid clashes and aids the planning and optimising of construction activities while identifying potential bottlenecks and ensuring efficient project delivery.

The unexplored efficiencies of iPhones in surveying

Some recent iPhone models come equipped with LiDAR sensors, which can be utilised for capturing images to create 3D models of rail infrastructure, including tracks, switches, and other components, or simply allowing site teams to identify issues found on site. Recent tests have shown their scanning functions to be incredibly useful, with various methods and applications able to leverage the device’s built-in sensors and capabilities.

The LiDAR sensor isn’t a survey-grade sensor, but it is utilised by third-party apps for gathering images. These are then post-processed using photogrammetry software to generate detailed 3D models and point clouds, enabling precise measurements and analysis.

QTS is currently testing the accuracy of iPhones by extracting topographic data from small-scale scans and merging them into larger topographic surveys. Currently, iPhones are used to gather information from smaller drainage assets’ drainage chambers or UTXs where entry into the asset is not possible due to size constraints. These ‘smaller drainage asset models’ are then tied into the surrounding topographic survey models by measuring control points using site control with a total station, similar to drone surveys. The data is then further verified using common detail within the topographic data, which has proven highly accurate and cost-effective using an iPhone photogrammetry app.

By optimising the layout and design digitally before construction, the need for redesign and additional materials during the construction phase can be minimised for survey teams, reducing overall resource consumption and associated emissions.

Digitalisation and increased efficiency go hand in hand

Technology is a huge investment and comes with initial costs, but it pays for itself in the long term. QTS has effectively used technology to reduce staffing hours, decrease carbon emissions, and most importantly, ensure safety and compliance for workers.

Companies that demonstrate their commitment to innovation and efficiency throughout 2024, and embrace these increasingly impressive technologies, are driving a transformative shift in the way rail surveys are conducted across the industry.

Visit www.qtsgroup.com/ for more details.

TECHNOLOGY 68 March 2024
North Star Consultancy continues to be at the forefront of developing and delivering solutions for rail customers across the world

Delivering effective solutions in an ever-changing transport world

For 17 years, North Star has been at the forefront of developing and delivering solutions from its offices in London, Dubai, and Sydney.

Currently comprising some 50 consultants and having delivered more than 250 projects, it has a proven track record in providing solutions across the entire rail project lifecycle, from the initial concept stages, through procurement exercises, to shadow operations, mobilisation, and service delivery.

“North Star has been active in the UK rail market since the company’s launch,” said Andy Pike, North Star’s Operations Director. “During this time, we have worked for almost all operators, rolling stock providers, infrastructure owners and authorities, delivering strategy improvements and operational integration across all functions and all aspects of bid activity.”

The organisation has been a supplier to the UK Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the Specialist Technical Advice for Rail and Other Transport Modes (STAR) Framework since 2015. In collaboration with other suppliers on the framework, it has supported the DfT to develop its 2035 Customer Vision, establish contingency operation and maintenance (O&M) arrangements through the Operator of Last Resort (OLR) programme and evaluate rail franchises and emergency measures agreements, emergency recovery measures agreements and national rail contracts.

“In 2023, we were re-appointed to the STAR Framework (STARThree) and are delighted to have won the OLR workstream as a small-medium

enterprise (SME) consortium,” added Andy. “North Star has worked on the STAR Framework since it began almost 10 years ago. Winning the OLR workstream is testament to our approach of delivering quality work to delight our customers and ensure repeat business.”

Its impact goes far beyond the UK. Since opening a Sydney office in 2018, North Star has worked extensively across the Asia Pacific region for operators and authorities. Its experts have provided independent rail operations and planning advice to the State of Victoria in Australia for the design phase of the new Melbourne Airport rail link.

“We worked on the development of initial proposals for the Geelong Fast Rail project and provided a team of bid writers and subject matter experts for a consortium’s bid for the Sydney Metro,” added Leticia Frank, Managing Director, Middle East. “This year, we formed a dynamic strategic partnership with independent management advisory consultancy Augmentium, which allows us to harness our collective strengths and positively impact public transport projects and customers across Australasia.”

In the Middle East, North Star has played a key role across the whole project lifecycle for the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram.

Leticia said: “We provided the operations strategy for Qatar Rail, led the response for the successful shadow operations bidder, led the O&M procurement and provided vital advisory services during the mobilisation phase.

“In Dubai, we supported a consortium’s bid for the Dubai Tram and Metro O&M tender with technical, financial, and commercial advice, showcasing our

flexible working arrangements and expertise in light rail systems.

“More recently, we provided independent advice on infrastructure design and operability for the Etihad Rail extension connecting the United Arab Emirates to Oman. Additionally, one of our procurement experts advised on the development of tender evaluation documents and selecting the appropriate bidder for a new light rail system in the Middle East.”

North Star has also been advising on major, highprofile transport projects in Canada since 2017, a region in which Director of Rail, Mark McCole, is optimistic about securing further potential opportunities.

“We provided senior operational and bid solution advice and bid writing services to a consortium bidding for the Hurontario Light Rail O&M contract,” he said. “We also provided senior bid advice to the winning consortium on their Ontario Line O&M tender response, covering O&M, pricing and risk transfer/allocation.

“Since 2020, we have been engaged as technical advisors to the City of Edmonton, providing senior O&M advice on the Valley Line Light Rail and, more recently, the Capital Line Light Rail South Extension project. Our remit covers mobilisation, design, lessons learnt, technical issues, risk and safety management, programme delivery, procurement, and performance.”

Despite these successes, 2023 was a challenging year for the team, with the untimely passing of North Star’s Founder and Managing Director, Richard Brown. Despite the sadness, it has driven even more passion and focus among its current leadership

Andy Geraldene Mark
ADVERTORIAL 70 March 2024

team of Mark McCole, Andy Pike, Leticia Frank, and Geraldene Lyon, in ensuring North Star continues to play a leading role in the rail industry with Richard’s vision for the business acting as a guiding light in transport at the forefront of their minds.

Andy, who had known Richard for almost 30 years, said: “Richard’s influence remains embedded in the business he created, and we are focussed on continuing North Star’s journey.”

This journey will largely be delivered across North Star’s eight areas of expertise:

Strategic advice on the effective development of railways and other transport networks, including organisational analysis, process development, efficiencies, and organisational structuring.

Bid strategy, management, and writing, providing leadership, advice, and specialist technical input, including writing. Its experts have contributed to 100+ tenders across four continents. The remit spans rail and bus O&M tenders and rolling stock tenders across all stages, from pre-qualification to the detailed technical response phase, negotiations and into contract mobilisation.

Mobilisation and operational readiness, providing operational expertise for the start-up of new transport services, with a focus on ensuring operational readiness on time, within budget and to the satisfaction of stakeholders and passengers.

In 2018/19, North Star was engaged on the mobilisations of nine railways in six countries (across three continents).

Customer experience, specialising in providing advice to optimise customer experience and interactions across all modes of passenger

transport to deliver high performance and customer satisfaction. North Star works with customers to develop customer-centric strategies, designs, and processes across the end-to-end journey.

Design specification development and review, working with transport authorities, end clients and bidders on the development of user-based design specifications across rail systems, trains/light rail vehicles (LRVs) and communication systems.

Procurement advisory and delivery services, providing strategic advice to end clients and transport authorities across O&M, design and build, systems and train/LRV procurement processes from a perspective of ensuring customer-centric, value for money and balanced risk outcomes. Its experts advise on industry engagement and development of procurement documentation, including bid evaluation and scoring, with specialisms in international publicprivate partnership/private finance initiative projects.

Disruption and event management, advising on the management of complex operational scenarios, whether planned, such as major events, or unplanned, like major disruption. North Star works with customers to ensure that the impact is reduced at both the operational and customer service levels, to ensure that the correct resources are in place and to improve performance.

Air-rail links, providing expertise in planning, project managing and implementing successful and profitable air-rail links. North Star applies bespoke methodologies and detailed research to ensure that air-rail links meet the needs of the local

Winning the OLR workstream

is testament to our approach of delivering quality work to delight our customers and ensure repeat business

market and operate to excellent levels of reliability whilst delivering industry-leading customer service. Since 2011, it has been providing strategic air-rail advice to London Luton Airport to improve air-rail integration and transform the customer journey experience.

People Director, Geraldene Lyon, concluded: “Collectively, the North Star team has decades of experience ranging from frontline to director level in both operational and consultancy roles, which gives us insight to provide astute advice.

“Our customers value the practical knowledge and experience we offer when making transformational change because they know it has been developed through sound experience.”

Visit www.northstarconsultancy.com for more details.

Map of North Star’s global work

ADVERTORIAL 71 March 2024

Senceive’s Callum Davidson and Simon Brightwell explain more about InfraGuard™, the sophisticated wireless monitoring solution helping asset owners weather the weather on critical infrastructure

Remote monitoring for resilient infrastructure and construction

Increasingly volatile and frequent weather events are causing cuttings, earthworks, and embankments to be more unstable, leading to landslips. The rail industry has to be one step ahead to keep services running and passengers safe, something that is being achieved thanks to wireless technology.

This is being led by Senceive, with its sophisticated wireless monitoring solution InfraGuard™ helping asset owners to manage critical infrastructure. Last winter alone it came into play in more than a dozen locations where landslides have occurred.

“We’re getting more and more violent rainstorms and facing groundwater pressures that we’ve never faced before, so we need to ensure at-risk earthworks are being monitored,” said Simon Brightwell, Head of Marketing.

InfraGuard wireless monitoring not only tells you what your assets are doing, but also shows you. Smart tilt sensors respond to movement to give you immediate insight into an event at a remote site.

Callum Davidson, Strategic Account Manager, said: “The system gives us alerts of small-scale movement which could indicate the early signs of a slope failure, and graded alerts of further movement, backed up by photographic images.

“It combines long-term asset monitoring with emergency event monitoring. There have been examples of us rushing out the equipment to earthwork failures, and within hours the system

has been installed and is sending back data about movements. It is providing the assurance of 24/7 insight and near real-time alerts with users getting more data when they need it most from fewer site visits which overall saves money and reduces the risk.”

InfraGuard is built around the Senceive FlatMesh™ intelligent communication platform which provides long-term, low-maintenance monitoring with readings taken at set intervals in normal conditions. The sensors can identify movement as small as 1,000th of a degree. When the system detects movement outside pre-set thresholds, it responds automatically and accelerates readings and image transmission, with the extent of the response related to the severity of the event.

Having been first deployed by Network Rail on routes in Kent, Sussex, and Wessex, it is proving a success worldwide, for example with recent rail projects in California and Canada.

Simon said: “Some of the landslips might not seem enormous, but even a small amount of material encroaching on a track poses a significant risk in terms of danger, disruption, and delay on an already busy network, so it is something that has to be taken very seriously.

“There are lots of steep slopes and challenging geology along the rail network and as much as you can do with traditional, visual inspections and surveys, you just can’t keep track of these things, they are too unpredictable, which is why continuous

remote monitoring is so important.”

Next year will mark the company’s 20th anniversary, a journey which has seen it grow from the early days within the research laboratories of University College London, to a global leader for wireless remote condition monitoring solutions. Today, it has installed tens of thousands of sensors worldwide, dealing with millions of data points every year, and playing a vital role in keeping trains running safely.

Simon said: “Technology is fundamental in the whole process of predicting where problems will occur and targeting where scarce maintenance resources need to be best applied to ensure the safe running of the railway.”

Callum concluded: “We are excited about the benefits the industry can gain in the future by integrating data, for example from monitoring systems, from highly localised weather forecasts, and from historic records in order to build a robust riskbased automated alerting system.

“At the end of the day, we are offering a solution to protect the assets and ensure people travelling on the railway are safe. We have an important part to play in that, with products that can be rapidly deployed on site and make the data available within minutes, something that is vital with the extreme weather we are experiencing.”

Visit https://www.senceive.com/ for more details.

ADVERTORIAL 72 March 2024
Images: Senceive
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Asger Eriksen, CEO of Zetica Rail, explains more about the evolution of ground penetrating radar (GPR) and the vital role it plays in the maintenance of railway trackbed

Leading the way with ground penetrating radar

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) has become an essential inspection tool whether the requirement is for on-demand trackbed condition information for maintenance planning and trackwork audits or near real-time root cause assessment.

“Zetica Rail collects and processes thousands of kilometres of GPR data annually for private and public railroads and government agencies on five continents,” said Asger Eriksen, Chief Executive of Zetica. “Zetica Rail is a recognised world leader in the field of non-destructive trackbed condition inspection.”

Traditionally in the rail industry, track geometry parameters are measured to quantify defects in the expected location of the rails. To use an iceberg analogy, this is just the tip of the iceberg. GPR is a complementary bottom-up measurement approach, revealing changes in the subsurface that may relate to the root cause of track geometry defects.

Network Rail was an early adopter of GPR, fitting systems permanently on inspection trains in 2006. Trackbed condition information derived from these systems is a key ingredient for its renewals planning.

Asger added: “Over the past 20 years platforms for carrying out GPR surveys have evolved, from trolley-mounted standalone systems, to rail-bound inspection vehicles, integrating GPR with track geometry, vision and other sensors, operating at speeds of 180kph.

“Integrated inspection provides a more holistic picture of railroad assets and their ever-changing condition. This leads to more informed decisions on the timing and type of maintenance required. The resulting efficiencies can translate to more sustainable maintenance practice including ballast material savings and optimisation of time on track with a reduced impact on revenue services.”

An increasing application of GPR-derived trackbed condition metrics is to validate the quality of recent

maintenance and audit the current state of repair of trackbed ahead of upgrades or renewals.

Audits have been used to verify:

The state of repair of track to inform best use of limited ballast maintenance budgets.

The extent of maintenance actually carried out including verification of ballast cleaning depth.

Confirmation of the crossfall of the formation layer to ensure adequate drainage.

The rate of ballast quality degradation.

Praising its impact recently was Queensland Rail, which described it as Google Street View for the railway, when it was used on a 4,600km journey in the Australian state to map out and gather data on key sections of its regional and South East Queensland network. Its latest GPR survey is the

largest Queensland Rail has ever conducted.

Following advancements in GPR control system and data processing technology, automatic data collection and targeted data analysis of ballast and trackbed can now be provided.

Asger explained: “Near real-time automated processing of targeted GPR data on the survey platform offers the opportunity to provide trackbed engineers with below-surface condition reports linked to triggers such as track geometry exceptions of predefined waypoints of interest.

“The reports are posted on a secure portal and can be automatically emailed to nominated persons. Reducing data processing and reporting from days to minutes provides significant benefits for root cause assessment, leading to more effective remediation, improved network velocity metrics, and increased safety. I’m very excited about the future with so much potential across the world for GPR integrated with complementary inspection systems to help railroads objectively audit and more efficiently manage their trackbed.” said Asger.

For an explainer video on GPR in the rail environment, visit: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=bT3fG2NbXeE

Visit www.zeticarail.com for more details.

Zetica Rail is a recognised world leader in the field of non-destructive trackbed condition inspection
ADVERTORIAL 74 March 2024
ADVERTORIAL 75 March 2024
Zetica’s integrated GPR and linescan camera vision system fitted to Amtrak’s inspection coach


The fifth RIA Dinner and Railway Industry Supply Excellence Awards is open for booking and entries. The deadline to enter the awards is approaching

RISE up for leading industry awards

Time is running out to enter this year’s Railway Industry Association (RIA) Dinner and Railway Industry Supplier Excellence Awards (RISE). The event celebrates the value organisations and individuals bring to the rail supply industry across a range of categories.

Company awards include Innovation, Employer of the Year and Safety, while individual categories include Employee of the Year and Rising Star Award. This year includes a new category, ‘The Economic Contribution Award’. The deadline for submissions is Friday, 19 April at 5pm, with the awards’ ceremony taking place at a glitzy dinner at the Landmark Hotel in London on Thursday, 27 June.

Grace Smithen, Senior Marketing and Events Manager, said: “The RIA Dinner and RISE Awards celebrate the innovation, growth, and impact that organisations and individuals have on our rail industry.

“The industry is facing huge challenges with the suppliers having a vital role in not just delivering transformational rail projects to serve a growing number of passengers and freight customers, but also creating jobs and generating economic growth in the process.

“We have already had so many fantastic submissions, but the deadline for entries is getting

closer so I’d urge anyone looking to submit an entry to do so as soon as possible. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your achievements and also join us in celebrating all of the achievements within the sector.”

There will be a diverse high-level suite of industry professionals judging this year’s entries, including Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain, Innovation Manager, East West Rail; Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Office of Rail and Road; Justin Moss, Head of Business Development and Electrification at Siemens Mobility; Raye Fullard, Chair, Women in Rail/Railway Industry Association EDI Charter Working Group; and Toufic Machnouk, Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, Network Rail.

This year’s event will be hosted by broadcaster and former politician Gloria De Piero.

Justin said: “As a passionate advocate for the rail industry, I am truly excited to join the judging panel again for the RISE Awards 2024. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to celebrate the people, innovative projects, and technologies that are shaping the future of our industry.”

Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain added: “The RISE awards are a vital way of recognising the achievements and contributions of suppliers in the UK rail sector. Especially looking at the next few

years, innovation and collaboration with the supply chain are becoming increasingly essential, and these awards enable organisations like East West Rail to see some of the very best new technologies and services which could be used to enhance national projects.”

The event is looking to build on the success of last year’s, which was hosted by comedian, broadcaster, and former political advisor Ayesha Hazarika MBE, and featured keynote speeches from Rail & HS2 Minister, Huw Merriman MP, and RIA’s Chief Executive Darren Caplan and Chairman David Tonkin.

An independent judging panel of senior industry figures picked the winners after a record number of over 90 entries were submitted across 11 categories. Among the winners, Andy Lord, Transport for London Commissioner, picked up the ‘Client of the Year’ Award, regarded by the RIA Board as the rail client individual who had done the most to deliver rail in their area and build strong supplier relationships over the year.

Speaking about last year’s event, Rebecca O’Donnell, Business Development Manager at AtkinsRéalis, said: “Atkins were proud to sponsor the RIA RISE Awards in the SME Growth category. It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the diverse talent

Photos from last year’s RIA Dinner and Railway Industry Supply Excellence Awards. Images: RIA
76 March 2024


in our sector, as well as some truly innovative and sustainable solutions.

“These awards are always a brilliant way to reconnect with colleagues and grow your network, and we look forward to supporting again in the future.”

Where and when is the award ceremony held?

The ceremony will take place at the RIA RISE Awards Dinner, at the Landmark Hotel in London on Thursday 27 June 2024.

How to enter the RISE Awards?

Read more about the categories and how to submit your entry by visiting https://www.riagb.org.uk/ RIA/Events/2024/RIA_RISE_Awards_/RIA_RISE_ Awards_Dinner_2024.aspx?EventKey=RISE24

Price: You may enter the RISE awards, whether or not you are a RIA member. Entry fee is £200 +VAT per award entry. (£350 +VAT for non-members). RIA’s SME members with an annual rail turnover below £1m will enjoy a 50 per cent fee reduction.

Please note, to attend the Dinner and RISE Award ceremony you will need to buy tickets. Visit https://www.riagb.org.uk/RIA/Events/2024/ RIA_RISE_Awards_/RIA_RISE_Awards_ Dinner_2024.aspx?EventKey=RISE24

This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your achievements and also join us in celebrating all of the achievements within the sector
Grace Smithen, RIA’s Senior Marketing and Events Manager

Judges for RISE awards

The expert judging panel for this year’s Railway Industry Supplier Excellence (RISE) awards are:

Bonnie Price, Chairwoman, Young Rail Professionals.

Daisy Chapman- Chamberlain, Innovation Manager, East West Rail.

Dyan Perry OBE, Chair, NED and Executive Coach.

Gareth Evans, Head of Rail Technology, Network Rail.

Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Office of Rail & Road.

Jo Lewington, C hief Environment & Sustainability Officer, Network Rail.

Justin Moss, Head of Business Development and Electrification, Siemens Mobility.

Raye Fullard, Chair, Women in Rail / Railway Industry Association EDI Charter Working Group.

Robert Ampomah, Chief Technology Officer, Network Rail.

Simon Burke, Lead Infrastructure Exports, Department for Business and Trade (DBT).

Toufic Machnouk, Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, Network Rail.

Award categories

Company awards

The Application of Digital Technology Award.

Employer of the Year Award.

Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Award.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Award.

Innovation Award.

Partnership Award.

Safety Award.

SME Exporter in Rail Award.

SME Growth in Rail Award.

Economic Contribution Award.

Wellbeing Award.

Individual Awards

Client of the Year.

Employee of the Year.

Rising Star.

77 March 2024

RBD Community Content Editor Fiona Broomfield takes you on a deep dive inside…

Your member portal One Place

Since we relaunched the RBD Community member portal One Place last year it has become a ‘must use’ resource for members.

We set out to enhance One Place to house everything people need to get ahead in rail, in a way that is relevant, useful, easy to understand and navigate. The main goal of what’s inside it – to add value to companies and individuals that want to do more work in rail or that want to break into the sector.

“My CEO is going to love it!”

One Place is a dynamic member-centred portal which is constantly updated – from weekly bids and tenders and grants and funding to The UK Rail Report. It also houses useful insights, reports, guides and a New to Rail section, which many members say is a great induction tool for their new recruits.

One of our newest members is Project Leaders, and their People and Communications Director Alison Bell recently commented during onboarding: “This is really exciting. I had no idea there was so much available – thank you! My CEO is going to love it!”

Weekly bids and tenders

The bids and tenders section, which is updated every Monday, is undoubtedly the most popular area of the site, and it the most requested by new members when they join RBD Community.

Around 15 Prior Information Notices and 40+

tenders are added every week so that members can quickly scan for opportunities, saving them time and resources. This area also includes links to more than 20 tender portals so that members can click and search portals themselves, and the international opportunities page is growing every month – now featuring useful guides to trading overseas as well as a raft of new opportunities in Australia and Denmark. Divya Prashanth from BlockRank said: “One Place is amazing. This is a treasure trove of information and very powerful source of support for us.”

Liam Keene, Compliance Manager at Beton Bauen, says: “The bids and tenders are important – thank you!” With Laura Marsland, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Helix Workflo, adding: “This will be really useful to find new opportunities to get the Helix name out there!”

A grants and funding section is also updated every Monday so that members can quickly explore what funding is available and where to apply for it.

The UK Rail Report

One Place is also home to The UK Rail Report, which is the insider’s guide to unlocking new opportunities in rail, and the most highly requested intelligence document. Largely down to the information it contains, and more than 700 contacts included.

The report is valuable to sales and business development teams and helps audiences to better understand the UK rail landscape, governance,

organisations running and supporting it. This is also being used as an induction tool to get new starters up to speed with the often-complex landscape that is the UK rail industry. The UK Rail Report adds real value for our members and supports our mission to be a force for good in rail.

Insights and reports

This is the place to find the industry’s national and regional strategies and key documents and features quick links to each for ease. We also publish member reports – from white papers to research findings – and promote member reports via the RBD Community LinkedIn page.

New to Rail

A well-used area, New to Rail features essential information for industry newcomers. The first place to start is with an introduction to rail and the organisations involved across the industry in The UK Rail Report. And, in an industry rich with its own language and jargon, we’ve got downloads available for all rail acronyms, a railway lexicon, glossary of terminology, useful links, recommended reports, and quick links to rail associations.

Ultimate Rail Calendar

The Ultimate Rail Calendar can be used in two ways: to search for your next networking opportunity; or as a vehicle to promote your rail webinars, conferences, and exhibitions for free. It features more than 100 UK

78 March 2024

and international conferences, exhibitions, webinars, seminars, and awards events every year.

Rail Supplier Directory

All RBD Community and Railway Industry Association members have their own dynamic landing page in the RBD Rail Supplier Directory. This is where you can search for companies you want to do business with – whether as a buyer, supplier, investor, partner or to expand your network. And it is available for anyone in the world to search.

Marketing support

A marketing support area serves as a reminder of the profile-enhancement benefits every member receives. You can download the Rail Business Daily media pack to explore advertising rates and future features, find more about the additional marketing services you can access with a 20 per cent discount, industry awards and featured marketing reports.

Plus, elsewhere in the portal, there are links to webinars, Rail Business Daily’s In The News podcast, access to Rail Director magazine archives, hot topics pages and member to member offers.

RBD Community benefits

This year RBD Community (RBDC) members will receive £4,300 worth of member benefits for just £399. This includes profile-enhancing benefits, plus unlimited company logins to access One Place. Visit https://community.railbusinessdaily.com

One Place is a dynamic membercentred portal which is constantly updated – from weekly bids and tenders and grants and funding to The UK Rail Report. It also houses useful insights, reports, guides and a New to Rail section
79 March 2024

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Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster has been appointed Managing Director (MD) of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC (SVR) with immediate effect.

“Every reason to feel cautiously optimistic about 2024”

Gus has been fulfilling the role in an interim capacity since 1 March last year, following his retirement from his previous role as Avanti West Coast’s Executive Director of Operations and Safety

Having volunteered at SVR for more than 30 years, how does it feel to be appointed MD, particularly on the eve of the railway’s 60th anniversary?

It is a privilege to be MD of the SVR at this point in our history. We are facing ongoing challenges resulting from the pandemic, rising costs and the cost-of-living crisis but we have many things to look back on with pride from 2023, and every reason to feel cautiously optimistic about 2024, as long as we continue to manage our business sensibly. Our 60th anniversary next year and the national celebration of Rail 200 give us plenty to focus on.

How has it been as interim MD and how has it compared working on a heritage railway to your previous role at Avanti West Coast?

The last 11 months have passed in somewhat of a blur really, as we have had so much going on. The beauty of this role is that you have visibility across the whole organisation. I have learned so much as a result. The

SVR is a much smaller organisation than Avanti West Coast. The whole team of staff and volunteers work closely together and are very passionate about the railway. Their energy is very infections and inspiring. We are empowered to run the business and are supported by the board of directors to do so. This is so refreshing compared to Avanti where my last few years were very constrained by internal process and oversight applied by the Department for Transport.

How did it come about getting involved with SVR and how important was it to be involved with the heritage railway?

I came to the SVR in 1992 as part of a group who had preserved some 1960’s diesel locomotives. I was actively involved in the maintenance and operation of these, and also became more involved in the operation of the railway and the organisation of special events. In 2010 I was asked to join the board of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc. The directors are volunteers, but this gave me a much greater insight into how the business ran. When I retired from Avanti in November 2022, I had agreed to spend two days a week assisting the SVR management team, and I was enjoying this very much. However, when my predecessor resigned in early 2023, the Chairman asked me if I would cover the role initially on an interim basis and I was happy to do so. It was really

important to me to be able to carry out this role as I felt the railway was at a key point in its history, facing considerable challenges as we entered 2023, and it was clear that someone who knew about running railways and who understood the SVR organisation was needed.

What are your aims and aspirations as MD?

My aims and aspirations are very simple: to make the staff and volunteers proud of this railway and to ensure the business is safe, financially viable, and resilient going forward.

What are the biggest challenges facing Severn Valley and how do you hope to overcome them?

The challenges we face have been well documented and are consistent with many other heritage railways and visitor attractions. These are: COVID business loans that need to be repaid, increased costs (coal in particular), and reduced visitor numbers due to the cost-of-living crisis. We will overcome these by managing our costs carefully and focusing on events we know will be popular and profitable, building this successful approach from 2023. We will also be looking to attract more visitors who aren’t necessarily interested in railways by having themed

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weekends throughout the year where the railway is essentially a venue. We will be doing more fine dining experiences and have reintroduced footplate experience days where participants can drive a steam or diesel locomotive under supervision.

More strategically, we need to diversify our commercial activities to ensure we are more protected against some of the factors I’ve outlined previously. We have been working much more closely with the main line rail industry commercially over the past year or so and have been building a varied portfolio of relationships and contracts. It is clear we can do even more in this area, as we have facilities available which are both useful and in short supply. We have also signed the first formal partnership agreement between a heritage railway and Network Rail. This is already bringing benefits to both parties.

I also think the 60th anniversary of the SVR next year, together with the Rail 200 celebrations commemorating the first passenger railway being launched in 1825, give us a great opportunity to

RIA North appoints Lorna McDonald as Vice Chair

Lorna McDonald has been appointed Vice Chair of RIA North. She is currently Head of Sales – Commuter at rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail, which has invested in Northern rail manufacturing and maintenance, with its fleets connecting the North’s major cities, and beyond.

Lorna has over a decade of rail experience and is a member of Women in Rail. As Head of Commuter, she works across the industry with multiple stakeholders including train operating companies, rolling stock companies and Hitachi Rail’s extensive supply chain.

As Vice Chair, Lorna will work with RIA North Chair Dave Maddison to set the strategic direction and work programme for the group going forward.

She said: “Honoured to be appointed Vice Chair of the RIA North Leadership Group. RIA North already plays an influential role shaping the future of the rail industry across the North so taking on the role of Vice Chair is both timely and exciting.

“Working for a major employer and investor in the North, I have seen first-hand the power of improved rail connectivity can deliver, including in places like my hometown of Hull. This is why I am excited to work with RIA North to advocate for northern projects and investment, like Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

broaden the outreach of heritage railways and improve the diversity of our visitor demographics. This will aid our long-term sustainability too. It is really important we make the most of these opportunities. I also want to ensure we remain relevant and attractive to the younger generations so that they feel inspired to continue this legacy.

SVR recently scooped three top awards and was highly commended in two further categories at the 2024 Heritage Railway Association (HRA) Awards. It was given the Award for Diesel and Electric Locomotion, while Class 50 Alliance and the Fifty Fund won Rail Express Modern Traction Award and Gus was named Railway Magazine Preservationist of the Year. What is your reaction to the awards and particularly the one you received?

I was very proud to see the level of recognition the SVR achieved at the HRA awards. It feels like we are slowly but surely re-establishing ourselves after a

Pete Sollitt to lead TRU West Alliance

difficult period.  It was great to see some of our people enjoying an occasion like that too in reward for all their efforts.

The award I received from Railway Magazine as Preservationist of the Year was truly humbling, and I actually didn’t know what to say. I have always just done my best for every organisation I’ve been involved in but the Class 50 Alliance and the SVR are particularly special to me, and preservation is important to me as I think it is important we continue to ensure our industrial heritage is kept active for future generations to see it in operation.

Are you optimistic for the future?

I am an optimistic person by nature. I think we can be cautiously optimistic about the future, but we must remain focused on managing the business in a sustainable way and not just reverting to ‘what we have always done’, as that would be suicidal. The strategy I have outlined will enable us to ensure we are able to pass this railway on to future generations in a sustainable state.

Pete Sollitt has been appointed Managing Director of TRU West Alliance ahead of a crucial year for the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

Following the Department for Transport’s recent announcement of a £3.9 billion funding boost for the programme, it is expected that 2024 will see significant progress made on a range of projects between Manchester, Leeds and beyond.

Pete joins the TRU West Alliance with a wealth of major infrastructure projects expertise after over 10 years of leading roles, most recently with the HS2 programme, where he was the Phase 2A Delivery Director.

His time within the rail industry is preceded by over two decades of senior leadership positions within the British Army, with multiple deployments in the Middle East, Balkans and West Africa.

He said: “In terms of the delivery of the programme, we need to maintain and enhance our performance so that excellence becomes a habit. Looking at what the alliance has achieved so far, I’m certain that we have the capability, expertise and experience required to achieve that.”

David White announced as SYSTRA’s Director of Health, Safety, Security & Sustainability

SYSTRA Ltd has appointed David White as Director of Health, Safety, Security & Sustainability to lead the business’ commitment to keeping colleagues safe and well, and lowering the carbon impact of its UK & Ireland activities.

He brings a wealth of experience delivering positive cultural change in this context in a number of sectors including construction, pharmaceutical, food manufacture and wastewater treatment.

Nick Salt, Chief Executive Officer of SYSTRA Ltd, said: “We’re delighted that David has joined the senior leadership team at a time of significant growth in transportation and adjacent markets. Above all, the health, safety and security of our colleagues and the solutions we provide is our priority and this comes hand-in-hand with our sustainability mission.”

David White added: “I’m proud to be joining the signature team at SYSTRA and look forward to supporting colleagues in the world-wide SYSTRA Group. I have no doubt in their absolute commitment to providing a safe and sustainable future for everyone.”

Image: Hitachi Rail Image: Network Rail Image: SYSTRA

Steer Director Andrew Davies and Associate Duncan Edmondson have released new research which predicts that rail passenger numbers could double by 2050 compared with the pre-pandemic peak

Seize the opportunity to grow passenger rail

“We are confident that under any scenario GB rail demand will grow well beyond the capacity provided for today, growth that Government policy, rail services and operators will need to accommodate.”

That is the message from Steer Director Andrew Davies and Associate Duncan Edmondson in new research for the Railway Industry Association (RIA), which has found that rail passenger numbers could double by 2050.

The report says that:

Rail passenger volumes could grow between at least 37 per cent and nearly 100 per cent up to 2050 (compared with the pre-pandemic peak), equating to between 1.6 per cent and 3 per cent average growth per annum.

Steer is confident that under any scenario rail demand in the UK will grow beyond today’s network, growth that Government policy, rail services and operators will need to accommodate.

The Steer analysis sets out the first scenarios for future passenger rail growth to be published since the pandemic and concludes that even under the most pessimistic scenarios, rail demand in the UK is likely to show a steady and continuing upturn.

In the report, Andrew and Duncan write: “Until the pandemic, rail had seen sustained growth in passenger usage since privatisation. The rail market has already recovered to around 90 per cent of prepandemic volumes and our scenarios show it is likely there will be a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels in four to seven years.

“The level of growth over time and in different markets will be influenced by a range of factors, including the economy, socio-demographics, modal competition, the customer service offer (including fares and ticketing and timetable), new/upgraded infrastructure and other policies that directly or indirectly impact on rail.

“Under the scenarios, volume growth in the rail market would grow between 37 per cent and 97 per cent between the pre-pandemic peak and 2050 (equating to between 1.6 per cent and 3 per cent average growth per annum). Whilst these scenarios are necessarily dependent on assumptions and not precise forecasts, it is reasonable to expect that the

level rail usage will sit within this range, and they are robust to variations in assumptions reflecting uncertainties.”

The research sets out a suite of demand drivers including population and economic growth, but also policy intervention scenarios which could further simulate long-term passenger rail growth and –critically – increase revenues.

The research comes after Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that the UK population will rise by 6.6 million or 10 per cent to 73.7 million in the next 15 years to mid-2036, something that will have significant implications for infrastructure and transport.

This upwards revision to the ONS projections is not included in the above forecasts, underlining the robustness of the continued growth assumptions in the Steer report.

Commenting on the research, Darren Caplan, RIA Chief Executive, said: “This landmark report sets out a range of scenarios for future rail passenger growth, yet under all of them passenger numbers grow, which will have clear impacts on capacity in the future.

“Under the lowest growth scenario, even if the UK Government does nothing and lets the industry drift along as it is, rail passenger numbers still grow by a third in the 25 years to 2050. Alternatively, if a future government adopts a bold and ambitious strategy to improve the customer offer and drive

some behavioural change, passenger numbers could double by 2050, dramatically increasing revenues. Freight is also likely to grow in this time, with the Government itself setting a 75 per cent growth target over the next 25 years.

“So there is clearly a huge opportunity to expand rail travel, benefiting the UK’s economy and its connectivity, as well as bringing social and decarbonisation benefits. To achieve this, we need to see rail reform and a long-term rail strategy as soon as possible, including a plan for increased northsouth capacity, which all rail experts agree will not be delivered under current plans.”

We are confident that under any scenario GB rail demand will grow well beyond the capacity provided for today
Image: Shutterstock
AND FINALLY... 86 March 2024
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