Looking ahead to Digital Rail 2022 – a Global Railway Review event

On 7 and 8 November 2022, Global Railway Review will host our Digital Rail event; this year taking place in-person at London’s Twickenham Stadium. Industry experts and supporters of rail’s digital transformation – from the likes of Network Rail, SNCF Réseau, SBB, Green Cargo and the UIC – will all meet to take part in informative case study and panel discussion sessions that will focus on the biggest topics currently influencing rail progress.

Innovation helping infrastructure managers

Advances in digitalisation present both opportunities and challenges for rail infrastructure managers. What have they implemented that has proved worthwhile? What do they know they need to do more of, but might need some help? Our Infrastructure Managers Hour session on 7 November will give representatives the platform to provide insight on their current strategies and projects, plus provide the outlook and next steps for them to get more out of innovation. Expect to see quick, to-the-point presentations that will give a snapshot of what is on the top of these organisations’ agendas to ensure they harness the power of digitalisation. Participants will include: Zoe McLaughlin, Senior Workstream Lead – Operational Property, Intelligent Infrastructure Programme, Network Rail; Pierre-Etienne Gautier, Director of the BIM Programme & Digital Continuity, SNCF Reseau; Aleksandr Zaitsev, Head of Digital Transformation & Innovation Department, Estonian Railways; Richard Schofield, Group Infrastructure Director, MTR Corporation (MTR UK).

Improving passenger and freight customer experiences

The railways are competing for customers and transporting cargo in a way the industry hasn’t had to since its inception. Travel patterns have changed and everyone’s journey and experience is different. To drive passenger numbers back up and increase cargo share, rail must be more flexible, reliable and punctual, it must get more out of data to ensure services are more aligned to user demand and more reactive when disruption occurs, provide better passenger information and onboard amenities, plus delivering modern ticketing that can improve the booking experience and speed up passenger flow through stations. The Train Operating Companies Hour session on 7 November will give operators the chance to showcase how they are using innovative technology to improve experiences, with participants including: Marie Hill, Chief Transformation & Digitalisation Officer, DB Cargo UK; Marc Silverwood, Digital Trains System Manager, Northern; and Johan Platteau, Innovation Manager, SNCB.

Opening up data

On 7 November, Jez Smith, Rail Data Marketplace (RDM) Programme Lead at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), will give an informative presentation about the RDM – a service that will provide the tools and frameworks to simplify data sharing between data consumers and the rail industry, opening data up to innovators to develop new tools and services for the industry and its passengers.

Improving organisational management and productivity

Operators often struggle to forward-plan and identify resource needs to manage timetables and allocate crews in times of crises. This can be due to working with outdated manual processes and a lack of transparency between departments. The result is heads of planning or heads of operations being unable to focus on strategic planning to deliver organisational efficiency and ultimately improve quality of services for passengers. The solution is to eradicate disparate technology, or the lack of it, and utilise applications that can help managers obtain more useful information and allow them to react and implement changes quickly to minimise network disruptions. A panel discussion on 8 November will address these issues with participants including: Keith Palmer, Head of Performance & Planning, Greater Anglia; Marie Hill, Chief Transformation & Digitalisation Officer, DB Cargo UK; and Mike Bagshaw, Chief Operating Office and Performance & Planning Director, MTR UK.

Monitoring and maintaining rolling stock

Passenger expectations are rising, and train operators are under pressure to improve punctuality and reliability, so they must invest in new systems and technology that can deliver long-term financial and operational benefits. At the heart of these performance improvements is the challenge to keep trains running for longer without disruption by minimising planned or unscheduled maintenance interventions. The solution is to deliver transformed maintenance activities with asset management strategies that are cost-effective and can keep assets in service for longer, ensuring down-time is reduced. A panel discussion on 8 November will address these issues with participants including: Sam Bemment, Technical & Innovation Manager, Railway Industry Association; Sohail Ashraf, ERTMS & ATO Engineer, Govia Thameslink Railway; and Christian Chavanel, Director of Railway System, UIC.

Monitoring and maintaining infrastructure

Railways are congested, and passenger and freight numbers are increasing, making maintenance and inspection strategies for infrastructure managers difficult to plan and report. The roll out of intelligent infrastructure programmes that incorporate a vast range of technologies and use modern maintenance machinery, are equipping infrastructure managers with more useful data, helping teams to rethink their maintenance strategies, reduce costs, minimise track down-time, and improve infrastructure capacity and availability – so more passenger and freight trains can run. A panel discussion on 8 November will address these issues with participants including: Steve Dennis, Head of Asset Management, Office of Rail & Road; Andy Billington, Innovation & Digital Architecture Team Leader, Rail Baltica; Pierre-Etienne Gautier, Director of the BIM Programme & Digital Continuity, SNCF Reseau; Richard Thomas, UKRRIN Industrial Fellow in Data Integration & Cyber-Security, University of Birmingham; and Fabian Hansmann, Deputy Director of Marketing, Plasser & Theurer.

Train control, communications, and signalling

Today’s rail networks were not designed to deliver the capacity needed for current and future passenger and freight demand. Huge costs are associated with maintaining signalling that was designed for the last century. ERTMS deployment (and its components GSM-R (in the future FRMCS) and ETCS) reduces headway between trains, opening up more capacity on existing infrastructure. ‘Digital railway’ programmes are being implemented to realise these benefits with the deployment of modern signalling and train control technology. But, with the shelf-life of the GSM-R component rapidly approaching its end, its successor – FRMCS (designed for 5G) – will greatly contribute to enabling the future digital railway. A panel discussion on 8 November will address these issues with participants including: Matthias Ruete, European TEN-T Coordinator, European Commission; Massimiliano Rizzato, International Telecom Standardiation Manager, SBB; and Elena Razzano, Space Applications Engineer, European Space Agency.


By attracting passengers away from their cars and domestic air travel, and freight customers away from road hauliers, the railway is helping to reduce transport carbon emissions. But, the industry is under pressure to electrify more of its network, reduce the number of diesel-powered trains, and even improve driver behaviour. The use of renewable energy and implementing advances in alternative fuel sources for rail, such as hydrogen and fuel cell technology, and incorporating DAS connectivity which leverages AI algorithms, will contribute to making rail ‘greener’. A panel discussion on 8 November will address these issues with participants including: Dyan Crowther, CEO, HS1 Ltd; Thomas Gugler, Technology Programme Manager, SBB; and Piotr Obrycki, Director of the R&D Office, PKP Energetyka.

Increasing capacity, productivity, and quality of rail freight

In order to achieve the ambitious European Green Deal objectives and to meet the national CO2 reduction plans, it is essential to significantly shift freight transport from road to rail. To achieve this modal shift, infrastructure capacities, the general competitiveness of railways and therefore cost efficiency and productivity in rail, must be increased. A fundamental transformation of the sector towards automation and digitalisation is therefore needed. Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) is considered to be a unique chance to revolutionise European rail freight transport. It is an enabler to create a modern and digital freight network by not only increasing efficiency thanks to automation processes but will also ensure sufficient energy supply for telematics applications, as well as safe data communication throughout the rolling stock. A panel discussion on 8 November will address these issues with participants including: Valerie Baumgartner, Innovation Manager, Rail Cargo Group; Annette Bernstrom, Head of Locomotive Fleet, Green Cargo; and Antoine Rothey, Senior Advisor, Digital & Innovation, Fret SNCF.