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Railway must harness new technology says Rail Delivery Group report

21 November 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

In a new report, the Rail Delivery Group sets out how it is essential for the railway to embrace new technology to address capacity challenges.

Railway must harness new technology says Rail Delivery Group report

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, Network Rail and High Speed 2, has published a report which sets out how changes are essential to address capacity challenges facing Britain’s railway. The report highlights that it is essential for the railway to embrace new technology.

Coinciding with the release of the report, Twenty-seven industry leaders have put forward their case in an open letter to The Times newspaper on 21 November 2016. The letter calls for the industry to take advantage of new technologies and smarter working:

“To respond to the challenge of a huge increase in rail journeys and people’s expectations rising faster than the improvement in services, the railway must harness new technology and change the way we work.”

“By exploiting technology and smarter working, we can make train travel more reliable, more accessible, more affordable and more comfortable, creating new jobs in the sector and enabling manufacturers to grow the British economy.”

The report, entitled ‘Our customers, our people: a railway for the digital age’, shows how technology on new trains, in new signalling systems and in the way tickets can be bought and used will benefit customers and change jobs in the rail industry. Forecasts suggest that rail companies and the rail supply chain will need 100,000 new recruits over the next 10 years to take on new roles to replace retiring workers.

Railway Upgrade Plan could be at risk if technology is not harnessed

The report suggests if the railway is unable to harness new technology it will put at risk the benefits of the £50 billion-plus Railway Upgrade Plan. It believes further changes are needed to get the most out of the investment in order to deliver the extra trains and improved services for passengers.

Commenting on the report, Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Ten years into delivering a plan of sustained improvements, the railway is more important to the country’s prosperity than ever. Billions continue to be spent to deliver the modern services the nation needs. Getting the most out of investment means adopting new technology and changing outdated working practices.

“A modern railway will mean more reliable, more comfortable and easier journeys for rail customers. It will create thousands of opportunities for people who work in the industry in new, more highly skilled roles. A railway that doesn’t change will see customers missing out on better services, it will be a drag on the economy and, in the long term, it puts the very future of the industry in doubt.”

The Rail Delivery Group report, Our customers, our people: a railway for the digital age, can be downloaded here.

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