"I am convinced that this will revolutionise rail and make it even safer, more reliable and cheaper."
Switzerland has been operating trains since 1901, but our latest rail expert believes that rail is on set to develop more in the next fifteen years than it has for the last century. Speaking with Sarah Wright this week is Phillipe Gauderon the Head of Infrastructure at Swiss Federal Railways. As the 'backbone' to Switzerland's rail transport, mobility is at the heart of what they do. At the beginning of the year the operator announced their 2020 strategy to increase efficiency across their operations. They hope this will lead to innovations such as new services for door-to-door journeys, digital stations, smart freight wagons and even 30 percent capacity increases thanks to enhanced railway technology. Phillipe shares his personal journey through the rail industry and how digitilisation is set to transform the way trains are run.
Sarah Wright (SW): How did you get into the rail industry?
Phillipe Gauderon (PG): To be honest, it was purely by chance. I started my professional career as a lawyer. After four or five years, my enthusiasm for clients waned. That’s why I wanted to reorient myself and look for other options. As fate would have it, the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) was looking for a chief legal officer. From that point on, I had more and more to do with traffic issues. I quickly realised that I found these topics fascinating. That’s how I finally landed a role at SBB ( @RailService ).
SW: What do you like most about your job?
PG: What I find particularly motivating is that my work lays the foundation for the mobility of the Swiss people. I see mobility as a basic requirement for the prosperity and economic prosperity of our country. As head of SBB Infrastructure, I also appreciate the wide range of people and issues that I deal with that I can orchestrate into a “greater whole”.
SW: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
PG: One of the biggest challenges for me was and is to ensure the financing of maintenance and expansion and to use the funds sustainably and with the greatest customer benefit.
SW: What will be some of the biggest differences between rail now and in 10 years’ time?
PG: I believe that more progress will be made in the railway sector over the next 15 years than in the last 100 years. We are benefiting from new technologies and digitisation and will continue to automate more rail operations. I am convinced that this will revolutionise rail and make it even safer, more reliable and cheaper. In ten years, rail will be about much more than just transporting people and goods from A to B. For travellers in particular, mobility will evolve into mobility+. More and more, they will communicate, network, shop, etc. while on the go.
SW: What’s your favourite rail journey?
PG: For me, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful routes is Biel-Delémont-Basel. It goes through wild areas with rock faces, ravines and rivers. The mountain routes in the Gotthard and Lötschberg areas are also wonderful. But my absolute favourite route is the one from Bern to Fribourg, especially in the evening. This is the route that takes me home to my family.
Last week's 5 minutes with... Peter Traynor, Managing Director at Railbookers.
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