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COMMENT


what we already do and to change stand- ards. ‘That’s going to take me years’ – we need to get beyond that.


Everybody is afraid of doing something new because of the risk of failure. It’s far easier to carry on doing what we’ve always done in the past than it is to be brave and do something in a completely different way.


The structure of the industry is a huge problem. When I look at some of the technology solutions, like traffi c manage- ment systems, they are old systems. The boundary is around the entire railway, but if you look at the entire railway, we’ve got organisations as diverse as Government; infrastructure managers; TOCs; investors; unions – all of these have objectives that are not aligned. They’re all working on dif- ferent investment cycles.


To deliver benefi t across the entire struc- ture is almost impossible if we have no alignment in our objectives.


The way benefi ts are accrued mean that of- ten an investment will need to be made by one party, but the benefi t is realised by an- other party. The business case goes across multiple organisations, and as an industry we’re not able to exploit that and success- fully deliver.


The scale of our networks are so huge that migration is a huge issue. It always will be.


To realise our business cases, we need to get benefi ts early. That’s very diffi cult when you’re looking at a national network. We need to fi nd a way of doing that more ef- fectively in the future.


Innovate and integrate


People say to me that we’re changing tech- nology all the time, but my belief is that we haven’t really seen a radical change in technology since the 1950s, when we in- troduced coloured light signalling as op- posed to mechanical semaphore signalling. We suffer from a lack of change capability, which affects our ability to successfully in- troduce new technologies.


I did mention the realisation of benefi ts is often way beyond what you would expect. I work with a group that looks at ERTMS and its deployment in the UK. We’re often looking at a migration band that’s 30 years long. We’re not going to have the same gov- ernment in 30 years.


It almost, in my mind, seems pointless to plan that far ahead when your plans are clearly going to change. Technology is go- ing to move on in fi ve years; why plan for something in 30 years’ time that’s probably going to have been long since surpassed by a newer technology?


Looking to the future – the answer to a lot of our transport needs is integration. We need to bring all the stakeholders to-


gether and recognise that what we do is provide an infrastructure that benefi ts the UK economy. We move people and goods around and we need to focus on doing that effectively. We’ve got an important part to play in the economic recovery of the UK and developing UK PLC. We need to open our eyes to the fact that innovation is not just about technology.


It’s also about structures, processes and cultures. It’s about opening up the mar- kets in which we operate to new stakehold- ers, fi nding ways of getting better returns on our investment by better utilising new technologies.


It’s about the idea of open innovation: bringing together multiple groups, wheth- er it be universities, construction manag- ers, TOCs, the supply industry; we need to bring them together and get them to under- stand the problem and involve everyone in coming up with the solutions.


If we can deliver that, rail has a very bright future and will play a massive part in the UK economy and the transport infrastruc- ture of the future.


Christian Fry FOR MORE INFORMATION


Visit www.invensys.com/en/aboutus/ values/innovation.aspx


rail technology magazine Jun/Jul 11 | 35


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