The varied technological developments in recent years in rail and metro are certainly impressive but it’s perhaps the pace of the change which is so dazzling. Innovations just in their infancy a decade ago are now commercialized for the mass market – drones, 3-D printers, robotics, cloud computing to name but a few. Keeping a focus amidst such changes can be a challenge. But that’s one of the key tasks for rail and metro technology leaders.
Our Editor Luke Upton spoke to five of them, including Bombardier, ProRail and SNCF to find out more about their key goals for the next twelve months.
All the interviewed experts are speakers at the SmartRail Europe Congress and Expo (Amsterdam, the Netherlands 19-20 April 2016).
Peter Smyth, Chief Mechanical Engineer at Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann), who enjoyed a bumper year in 2015 seeing passenger numbers rise by 5.3% to 39.8 million: ‘The major focus for 2016 is the regeneration of our fleets after 7 years of economic downturn and a ramp up in fleet allocation to meet additional passenger growth from the economic recovery. This includes planning and delivering fleet refurbishments and overhauls and playing catch up for certain maintenance tasks as well as squeezing asset availability to match increased demand.’ (Increasing performance with condition based maintenance strategies and processes’)
The continuing development of IT is a big focus at SmartRail Europe, and the event is well served by experts in this area. Vincent Weeda, Traffic Analyst at ProRail - pictured left (‘Delivering operational excellence with IT’ who tells us that “In 2016 ProRail will address the impact of disruptions (by prevention, fast fault repair, and optimal traffic management around the problem). After improving punctuality in regular operations to a fairly high level, the focus of our Performance Analysis Group will now shift to limiting cancellations as a result of disruptions.”
Whilst Teemu Rintala, Head of Data Analytics, VR - Finnish Railways (Predictive analytics to improve rolling stock maintenance) and is maintenance division see their goal as; “increasing the company's competitiveness through constant production development and by offering even better quality services. The focus for the year 2016 is to deploy a new, dynamic and data-driven management system as well as to obtain more collaboration between information systems, human resources and analytics.”
Bombardier, Lead Sponsor of SmartRail Europe and whose Head of Innovation and Knowledge Management, Chris Crawford - pictured right (Innovation in the next generation rolling stock to meet customer needs) in the context of a consolidating railway industry, 2016 is set to be a pivotal year; “We are continuously focused on increasing our overall competitiveness. This means we are moving away from developing bespoke solutions for every project. Instead, we are adopting a platform-based product approach that uses standardized and modular component designs.”
Chris then expanded on this approach; “This will enable Bombardier Transportation to reduce overall integration and project risk while bringing more value to our many customers around the globe. We intend to significantly increase these technology synergies and create the sustainable conditions to continue being an innovation leader. We focus innovations on all aspects of performance, passenger experience, life cycle costs, and system integration. In addition, we see great potential in further developing our services activities, in order to offer the best total costs of ownership to our customers.”
And Christian Schang Director of Projects, SNCF - pictured left (Smart infrastructure asset management to ensure operational performance sees the opportunity in France; “The merging of the former Infrastructure manager and SNCF Infra last year offers a huge change for the national network. The adding and sharing of tools creates huge potential. But we always have to consider that innovation is required everywhere within a railway system to achieve our future targets.”
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