Editor's Comment

23.01.18

Out with the old...

Source: Dec/Jan RTM

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Year with brand-new infrastructrure to match.

Similarly, in spite of lasting CP5 funding concerns, particularly regarding renewals, Chris Grayling’s CP6 budget announcement was largely welcomed by the sector. As NSAR’s Neil Robertson notes on page 84, the settlement is a fantastic achievement that truly reflects the growing importance of rail nationally.

So you could say our first edition of 2018 is one largely comprised of achievements: there’s a lot of new and planned infrastructure to celebrate.

And the way Network Rail manages these assets is getting smarter, too: on page 29, Tim Flower, its professional head of maintenance, talks us through a new Intelligent Infrastructure programme which will improve the collection, integration, interrogation and systematisation of data. Martin Vallance, the infrastructure owner’s programme manager for ORBIS, also argues for a more data-driven railway on page 46, where he introduces readers to a new digital track tool set to reduce temporary speed restrictions across the network.

In fact, digitisation is a constant throughout this edition. On page 51, VTEC’s head of ERTMS, Paul Boyle, describes how Project Aura has been revolutionising training through brand-new immersive technology; later on, CrossCountry boss Andy Cooper says his company has been using smart luggage tags to keep passengers informed during travel (p53); David Shipman, a member of the Network Rail Infrastructure Projects Signalling Group, explains how automation and machine learning are transforming the sector on page 54; and on page 59, Peter Hughes of the Institute for Railway Research outlines how advanced computer techniques are analysing close call reports to create accurate and meaningful data.

It’s no surprise that many of these digital innovations are competing for an award at this year’s UKRIA, hosted by RTM on 22 March at London’s Battersea Evolution. Much like this edition, the annual award ceremony seeks to highlight the most remarkable examples of innovative thinking happening across the industry. You can take a look at the shortlist of companies and rail professionals who are in the running to receive an accolade on page 60 – but keep in mind that the event is open to anyone who would like to enjoy a much-deserved night of celebration and entertainment. We hope to see you there!

Luana Salles

Editor

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