Ahead of our Young Engineers and Apprentices Railway Seminar 2023 event, we caught up with four of the event’s speakers as they discussed their roles and involvement in the seminar, industry challenges and why it It is important that engineers participate.
Q: Could you briefly explain your role, involvement and experience in relation to the railway industry and the IMechE “Young Railway Engineers and Apprentices Seminar 2023”?
Nick Swift, Eversholt Rail (Nova Scotia): I work in the Product Development team within Eversholt Rail Customer Services. Eversholt Rail is a rail vehicle owning company that buys and leases trains from many of the UK’s passenger and freight train operators. The product development team looks for ways to improve and improve our fleets, whether that’s reducing emissions, improving performance, or finding new uses for vehicles replaced by new trains .
I have worked in the rail industry since leaving university, firstly for a train operator and then at Eversholt Rail, in different roles within the engineering function. I’m lucky enough to be part of some of the most interesting and diverse projects we do here at Eversholt. I love finding new ways to solve problems and apply new technologies. I have attended junior member events earlier in my career and look forward to sharing ideas with new rail industry colleagues at this year’s event.
Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland (BR): I am responsible for the Scottish Government’s £1.4 billion of annual spending to support rail infrastructure and services in Scotland. I will explain the benefits of the integrated approach used in the Scottish Railway.
Eduardo Garcia Thomas, Amey Infrastructure (EGT): I am an Assistant Project Manager for Amey Infrastructure Wales. My role has been to help carry out the depot improvement works required to service the new fleet of trains which will be used on the valley’s main lines. I graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Swansea University. I previously worked at the Port Talbot Steelworks but have now been working in the rail sector for 18 months.
Rowan Phillips, Transport for Wales (RP): I am currently involved in the creation of the South Wales Metro with Transport for Wales, ensuring all maintenance arrangements are in place for our brand new rolling stock. I was previously a qualified engineer and attended this conference 10 years ago and am excited to share some of my experience.
Q: In your experience, what has been the biggest barrier to using integrated travel in your industry?
BORN. : One of the biggest challenges is connecting new technology with some of the legacy systems used to manage the day-to-day operation of the railroad. Justifying changes with safety-critical systems involving multiple stakeholders can be time-consuming, with many people to consult for even the smallest change. Integrated Travel is about creating seamless links between systems to create end-to-end journeys, ensuring that public transport is a real alternative to using private road vehicles.
BR: Lack of alignment – between transport organizations and with strategic objectives.
EGT: The number of stakeholders required for consents and approvals often poses a risk to the program. Additionally, aging assets add considerable complexity to projects and can prevent work from being delivered on time.
PR: Clear responsibilities can be a barrier, especially when the different modes are not controlled by a single guiding mind.
Q: What key topics are you looking forward to discussing at this year’s event?
BORN. : I’m going to talk about managing innovation in the rail industry, why we need to innovate and how to get your ideas adopted within an organization. I’ll share some examples, drawn from across our asset portfolio, and explain how we can keep rail relevant for the 21st century.
BR: The value of integration and the importance of rail’s role in decarbonization.
EGT: I am excited to discuss the implementation of value-added engineering options for the delivery of a modern rail network.
PR: I am excited to discuss the introduction of new and novel technologies that have the potential to make the business cases for investment in integrated travel projects more attractive.
Q: What technologies or applications do you think we should watch for in the future?
BORN. : Rail as a mode of transport has inherent advantages that remain as strong as ever, but as an industry we are relatively small and the ability to develop our own solutions is therefore limited. We need to embrace technologies from other sectors, including automation, the use of digital technologies and new advances like AI.
New zero-emission rail traction opportunities are being explored for parts of the rail network where electrification cannot be justified at current costs. New methods of signaling and controlling the rail system are advancing, adopting new positioning technology that is becoming commercially viable.
Even though the rail industry faces some challenges, engineers still have plenty to do, making it an interesting sector to work in.
EGT: The introduction of CFS and PSE sections on historic infrastructure can help optimize taxpayer resources. I would expect this technology to be introduced nationwide.
PR: The use of batteries and multi-mode rolling stock which enables the introduction of new networks and services without the complexities of significant investment in infrastructure. I’m also excited about the possibility of using more automated inspection and diagnostic equipment to streamline asset maintenance.
Q: Who else would you like to hear the most from on the show?
BORN. : As a regular user of the East Midlands rail services, I look forward to hearing from Rachel about the new fleet being built for this line, and working in the light rail sector, I can’t wait Find out more about converting from heavy rail to light rail in South Wales.
BR: Presentation by Rachel Turner, Head of New Trains at East Midlands Railway: ‘A new dawn for the East Midlands’.
EGT: I’m passionate about sustainable travel and can’t wait to see others encouraged to get out of their cars and use public transport. This is why discussions about integrated travel are very interesting to me. I look forward to learning more about other projects currently underway to further develop our society’s essential asset, the railway.
Q: Why is it important for engineers to participate in this event?
BORN. : Attending events is important to meet other engineers and share ideas. Engineering institutions have existed to enable this for nearly 200 years, and sharing thoughts and experiences in person is as valuable today as it has always been.
BR: This is a fabulous opportunity to gain strategic knowledge on future railway development and also an excellent opportunity to build valuable networks. I benefited greatly from IMechE events like this earlier in my career – and still do.
EGT: Having recently joined the rail industry, I am keen to understand the network improvement work underway across the UK rail sector as well as the common challenges faced across the industry.
PR: I am fortunate to have a wonderful network of peers in the industry that I have built through attending and participating in IMechE events. This is a fantastic opportunity for new entrants to our industry to start building their network and learning more about the industry as a whole.
The Young Railway Engineers and Apprentices Seminar: Integrated Journeys will take place from 30 November to 1 December 2023 at the Charles Street Building, Sheffield Hallam University.
Join this event to:
- Learn about current industry technologies and potential future technologies
- Better understand the scope of the railway sector and the different career paths you could follow there
- Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Wabtec Rail in Doncaster
- Network with other engineers and apprentices throughout the two-day event, including an evening networking dinner at the end of the first day.
- Participate in workshops to develop solutions to real-world engineering problems related to the theme of integrated travel and propose innovations that will combine distinct modes of transportation to maximize efficiency in terms of time, cost, safety, accessibility and convenience.
To reserve your place, please visit event website.