"In a few years I think we will see the first metro train driven in an Automatic Train Operation mode."
Is Sweden’s underground the best designed public space in Europe? Beneath the Swedish capital is a colourful array of new art. It has been referred to as the world’s longest art gallery with 90 out of the 100 stations along the 110km of tunnelling adorned with paintings, installations, mosaics and sculptures by 150 artists since the 1950s. Appearance aside, how does one of the largest privately owned employers in the Stockholm area try to increase ridership? This week our reporter Emily O’Dowd spoke to the Traffic Information Manager, Anne Sjögren Schmidt for MTR Stockholm Metro.
Emily O’Dowd (EOD): What inspired you to join a career in the rail industry?
Anne Sjögren Schmidt (ASS): I started off in the airline business and changing jobs within transportation felt natural to me. The transport industry requires special attention to operate around the clock so it is important that you can adjust to the unplanned matters every day. So moving from air to rail was a new challenge for me. MTR Corporation is also a very fascinating company within the industry. It is an international, Hong Kong based company expanding in different parts of the world including the Nordic Countries and Sweden meaning that MTR is now the third biggest privately owned employer in the Stockholm area.
Customers around the world have increasing demands on how we operate. As rail operators, it is crucial that we keep improving safety, punctuality and customer service. These are integral to be able to produce world class railway operations. MTR works on a daily basis to improve our product, and in order to make that happen smoothly, we must be employers that make our staff feel engaged and satisfied with their choice of career.
EOD: What do you enjoy most about your role?
ASS: To see that improvements are happening and travellers are experiencing them, and that our drivers and team leaders enjoy work! Additionally, I enjoy the variety of tasks and working together with different parts of the organisation in order to improve understanding and results.
EOD: How have you seen rail change since you first started and now?
ASS: I started only three years ago but already I have noticed that there are more privately owned companies that operate railways with a higher level of precision in production; such as punctuality, cleaning, and information to passengers.
EOD: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
ASS: During my years in the railway business; turning a negative working environment and a low overall Employee Satisfaction index to a positive one where team leaders and drivers work together in relative harmony. It is a great satisfaction to see that we are reaching goals in Employee Satisfaction index and Customer Satisfaction Index!
EOD: What ways do you try to increase ridership?
ASS: Stockholm is growing fast and we need to deliver a reliable and safe way of travelling to make the “stockholmers” travel on the Metro.
EOD: How do you predict rail to change in the next ten years?
ASS: I expect to see: more private initiatives, modern technology in vehicles and passenger disruption information on demand. In a few years I think we will see the first metro train driven in an Automatic Train Operation mode.
EOD: What is your favourite rail journey?
ASS: I travel on the Metro every day and I’m never late! I also enjoy a ride with MTR Express between Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Last week's 5 minutes with... Michael Thiel, CEO at Frauscher Sensor Technology.
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