"We can expect modern technology to improve, and this will include the implementation of the ERTMS-solution across Europe to standardise train operation across borders."
Bane NOR is the state enterprise which builds and maintains all of Norway’s 4,087km of track, while other companies operate train services. These companies include NSB AS, NSB Gjøvikbanen, CargoNet, Flytoget, Hector Rail, Green Cargo, Grenland Rail, Tågåkeriet and LKAB Malmtrafik. At the beginning of the year, Bane NOR celebrated its official launch at Oslo Central station as the country’s new railway infrastructure manager. The decision to set up a new railway infrastructure manager comes after a wider rail reform programme. The reform programme paves the way for the competitive tendering of passenger services across the network, with the first service package to be tendered this year. Bane NOR now takes on the infrastructure maintenance and traffic management responsibilities of Jernbaneverket as well as ownership of stations and commercial real estate. In our latest 5 minute interview, Sarah Wright spoke to Helga Nes, the Executive Vice President for Infrastructure and Construction to find out why she decided to pursue a career in the rail and her predictions for the industry over the next ten years.
Sarah Wright (SW): How did you get into the rail industry?
Helga Nes (HN): My experience with the rail industry is fairly short – only four months in fact! I ended my 34 year career in the oil and gas business last year and established my own management consulting company. I have a broad experience from different management positions, especially project management. In connection with the reorganisation of the rail sector in Norway, effective from January 2017, I was hired into the position as acting head of the Infrastructure Construction Division in Bane NOR ( @ ), which is responsible for all new railway infrastructure projects in Norway. Now I have accepted permanent employment as a part of the Corporate Executive Committee in Bane NOR which is a very exciting opportunity.
At this year's SmartRail Europe you will have the opportunity to listen to representatives from NS International, Geir Isaksen, Norwegian State Railways and HIT Rail BVs. See the full speaker list here.
SW: What do like most about your job?
HN: Bane NOR is a newly established state owned company which is responsible for the planning, development, administration, operation and maintenance of the national railway network, as well as traffic management and administration and development of railway property. Bane NOR also has operational coordination responsibility for safety and operational responsibility for the coordination of emergency preparedness and crisis management.
My role is to establish the new Infrastructure Construction Division, ensuring a stronger portfolio management across the different rail development projects which are on-going in Norway. This is important in order to ensure we achieve the most out of the money prioritised to develop new infrastructure. We have to standardise the way projects are managed, improve risk management, cost efficiency, resource management and learning across a range of different projects. I really enjoy working with highly skilled and motivated project professionals. Together we are able to drive improvements and learn new areas.
SW: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
HN: Ensuring a high degree of predictability in project execution is important – both related to completion time and cost. Increased cost efficiency is also important because this has to be achieved through close cooperation between Bane NOR and our entrepreneurs and suppliers. Additionally, having the appropriate project execution and contract models are essential. With stronger expectations for our environmental and climate performance will challenge our way of thinking and the development and execution of our projects.
SW: What will be some of the biggest differences between rail now and in 10 years’ time?
HN: I predict that railway journeys will continue to increase as a climate friendly mode of transport. And there will also be more frequent and higher speed trains around the cities which will outperform other means of transport. We can expect modern technology to improve and this will include the implementation of the ERTMS-solution across Europe to standardise train operation across borders.
HN: Norway has some of the most scenic rail journeys in the world; from the windows you can look at the fjords
and mountains, e.g. the Bergen, Flåm and Rauma Lines. But from a professional perspective, my favourite journey would probably be the new Holm-Nykirke section on the Vestfold Line which opened in late 2016.
I don’t necessarily appreciate it for its view because most of the double track passes through a tunnel, but it represents the kind of high-quality design, engineering and construction we would like to expand upon in years to come. More notably, this project includes a four-track, two-platform underground station at Holmestrand, designed to accommodate trains passing at 250 km/h. To my knowledge this is the first of its kind in the world.
SW: Thank you for your time today Helga, and we wish Bane NOR every success!
5 minutes with… You? Each Friday the team here at SmartRail World brings you a new 5 minutes with... interview. This fun, fast-paced feature will help you get to know more about personalities across the industry, their ideas and experiences and of course their own favourite rail journey! Want to take part? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
The last 5 minutes with... 5 minutes with... Paul Comfort, Chief Executive Officer, MTA Maryland
For the latest updates in Scandanavia, you might be interested in: