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The future railway organisation
March 29, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The blurring of rail infrastructure and service delivery is increasing. Encouraged by politicians to seek integrated decision making and efficiency – facilitated by technology blurring traditional interfaces between railway staff roles and empowering the consumer – there are real opportunities and pressures to dealing with a railway that needs to accommodate growth.
We brought together three industry experts with different points of views and perspectives to facilitate a discussion on how Britain’s railway needs to adapt to deliver for the future.
The session started with Stephen Gardner, Executive Vice President for Planning, Technology and Public Affairs for Amtrak, offering his perspective from his experience in America with Amtrak, which operates a diverse set of services over a highly fragmented and complex rail network.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) presented next. He joined the CAA after a wide-ranging career in the rail industry and used experience in both rail and air sectors to draw comparisons.
Howard Smith, Crossrail’s Operations Director and Chief Operating Officer for Rail at Transport for London explored lessons learned from his experience of London’s railways and contrasted the benefits of privatisation and competition with also the contribution of a stable and empower public sector.
Discussion on the presentations focused on the lessons to be learned from each other, the benefits of a collaboration, of deregulation, and the difficulty stemming from complexity fragmentation. Howard emphasised that through a more collaborative railway it becomes easier to incentivise the industry towards the benefit of customers.
Andrew was asked ‘which of the many rail regulations would he change?’. His fundamental view was for customers to be the motivation for regulation, and perhaps incentivising the devolution within Network Rail could add to that passenger focus. Howard noted this view is reflected in the TfL approach to incentivising good train performance, irrespective of cause, to provide benefit to passengers.
As the debate concluded the question was ‘should the rail industry devolve or amalgamate to get clarity and momentum?’ With no clear single solution Stephen hypothesised that what mattered was strong leadership along with the empowerment and incentive to make to achieve a more collaborative, integrated and successful rail industry.
Four common themes emerged from the presentations and the Q&A discussion:
- The challenge of capacity cannot be ignored and needs collective understanding and action to resolve constraints.
- Creating delivery approaches which further fragmented, complicated or hardened rights and obligations without ability to be flexed would make the challenge of responding to the market and stakeholders more difficult and more expensive.
- There is a need to empower management to act by removing unnecessary ‘noise’ of intra-modal conflicts.
- Freeing the industry from political interference and detailed and over-burdensome regulation could help to stimulate new approaches to delivering the outcomes Government wanted.
A more detailed summary with explanations on each of the presentations can be accessed here. Images of the event can be downloaded here.