Friday is very often the day for 5 Minutes With… interviews here at SmartRail World and so far this year we’ve conducted more than 20 of the informal interviews with some of the industry’s leading lights. With that in mind, we thought it would be a nice idea to reflect on some of the fantastic answers we’ve received in 2018 – from positions of responsibility in vital areas including security, innovations, signalling and international policy. Those interviewees haven’t all been from the UK, where our offices are, either, as we’ve had individuals from The Netherlands, France, Argentina and Australia, to name but a few.
We’ve cherry picked some of our favourite answers in the past ten months, something that, with so many fantastic responses, certainly wasn’t an easy decision. But decide we did, and we eventually settled on six insights, opinions and predictions from Nederlandse Spoorwegen, MaaS Alliance, RSSB, Rail Delivery Group, Network Rail and Belgrano Cargas y Logística. We've included a link to the interview in full at the bottom of each post… we hope you enjoy them (again).
Lies Alderlieste-de Wit, CISO of Nederlandse Spoorwegen
On how things have changed for Lies after more than 16 years of working in security:
Less than you would hope. The top 10 software programming mistakes that made our website vulnerable to hacks are pretty much the same as 10 years ago. Therefore we have to look at ourselves differently. We need to step up as a profession to become more of a business operator, fighting for the attention of a board who are in charge of a broad risk dashboard. Cyber risk is just another risk. We’re still using FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) too much when we communicate cyber risk. We need to grow up in terms of risk competence and to express ourselves in terms of risks – that doesn’t mean a doomsday scenario, but it’s important to quantify the risk.
Chris Lawrence, technical director at the RSSB
On Chris' favourite aspects of the rail industry:
CL: Rail is a broad sector and my experience ranges from automated people movers to high speed rail and everything in between. I most enjoy the complexity of rail in comparison to the civil engineering work I did earlier in my career in other sectors, and the intellectual stimulation of solving difficult technical problems from a whole system perspective. I often reflect with pride on the reliance that society places on its rail networks and the benefits that they deliver, knowing that we have plans to ensure a continuing place for rail in an environment of accelerating technological change
Laura Wright, head of international policy at the Rail Delivery Group
Laura's biggest professional challenge?:
Brexit has to be the biggest. The result was unexpected and when I came into the office the day after the referendum we had a blank sheet of paper and few ideas about where to start. Since then we have collated issues and risks, developed new policy in multiple topic areas and synthesised often disparate views from across the whole industry. This is a project with a moving target; we don’t know what Brexit is going to look like and we have to take action on complex issues without a view of the final relationship between the EU and UK. Brexit also permeates almost everything we do on the railway; standards, passenger rights, employment, authorisations to name but a few areas.
Ezequiel Lemos, president of Belgrano Cargas y Logística
What impact would a properly performing freight network have on Argentina?
A significant reduction in logistics costs. This will cause economic development in several regions far from the ports of export or consumption areas. In the case of grains, Argentina is the world's leading exporter, but freight is the major cost. There are regions of our country that can’t produce it because the cost of freight takes them out of the market. For the maize produced in Salta, for example, freight represents 50% of the value of the product. This means that corn isn’t produced in one of the most productive areas of the country.
Piia Karjalainen, senior manager at MaaS Alliance
Where would Piia like to see connected public transport in a decade's time?
I wish, and believe, that MaaS or connected public transport in 10 years will go from being a local business to having a national, European-wide or even global dimension. I hope that in 10 years there will be a MaaS application or service which will enable me to travel from Brussels to our lakeside summer house in Finland (in the middle of nowhere) using a single app, organising all required tickets, including the train or plane ticket, and rental car for the last 10 miles. One cannot cut the distance but I wish one could cut the time required to plan and book and organise everything.
David Shipman, signalling innovations manager at Network Rail
Where does David believe the big changes in passenger journeys will come in the future?
For me, there are two distinct perspectives to that: the changes where technology will be obvious to a passenger, and the ones that quietly transform the railway operation without the underlying advancement itself ever being obvious to users. In the latter category the wider introduction of major technologies such as European Train Control System (ETCS) and Traffic Management will be providing greater reliability and more capacity while still achieving the highest safety standards. It will also bring about continuous improvement in the way we deliver renewals and enhancements, meaning that we can deliver more in the time available and for reduced costs.
If these interviews interested you, why not get involved yourself. We’re always keen to speak to the industry's leading lights – if that's you please get in touch with Dave Songer: firstname.lastname@example.org.