Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail Speaker’s Interview: Maria Price

Posted: 29 September 2017 | | No comments yet

With Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail soon taking place in Munich, we sit down with one of its speakers, Maria Price, Head of European Policies and Public Affairs and the UIP International Union of Wagon Keepers to talk about the conference and find out what she will be speaking about…

What will your presentation focus on and what can delegates expect to learn from what you have to say?

I am happy to share with our delegates what the freight wagon keepers do in digital railways in order to increase the attractiveness, efficiency and reliability of rail freight transport services. Our delegates shall get first impressions on the data we collect or try to collect, why we collect it and how this data can benefit everyone involved in rail operations, railway undertakings and workshops, as well as shippers, infrastructure managers and authorities.

In addition, I will highlight our concerns on data catalogues and data exchange as the key elements of digitalisation in rail is to support the supply chain and logistics systems.

What would you say has been the biggest step forward in the field of Big Data for your organisation in the last five years?

The biggest step in the field of Big Data has been the collection of standardised data and sharing them via open platforms supporting the implementation of telematic applications in rail freight. Digitalising this data and creating interfaces between legacy and new systems will help to provide almost real-time, accurate and up-to-date data on wagons to those who need to know, when they need to know.

In your opinion, which rail organisation(s) do you think are doing the best work to keep abreast of Big Data developments?

Digital railways is a priority for every railway company and every railway organisation. It is not a beauty contest. The best work is done when data is made available in an ‘open data approach’ through standardised interfaces, tools and systems that can freely communicate with each other. This reduces administrative burden and allows for appropriate decisions to be taken on-time; increasing the efficiency in rail operations and the availability of rolling stock after maintenance works.

What challenges do you think the railway industry will face in the future concerning how Big Data is utilised?

The challenges are already here. Rail data exists, but how to organise and use this data is a work in progress. Because the railway system involves so many different aspects: RUs, IMs, keepers, manufacturers and rail authorities etc, the data has to be used to reflect the responsibilities for each to maintain, operate and regulate. This is just for the rail system. But rail freight is about logistics as well and shippers need to able to rely on rail data to make the best decisions on how to move goods and that’s quite a challenge as it may interfere with commercial interests.

Looking at the conference’s programme, who among your fellow speakers are you most interested to hear from and why?

The conference is like a ‘show and tell’ which is a very positive way to mix academia and industry work on research and innovation, and implementation for digital railways. That is why I look forward to having an exchange of good practices. This gives an opportunity to make sure we are all on the same page and ensure we all speak the same language when it comes to digital railways.


Maria Price holds a Doctorate Degree from the University of Oxford (St Anne’s College), Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and Environment. For the past 12 years, she has been working on a variety of rail topics including TEN-T development; the Fourth Railway Package; safety and interoperability; standardisation; TAF/TAP and Registers; NOISE; digitalisation; combined transport; wagon load services; EU funding; EU project calls; rail market monitoring; railway indicators; statistics; economic evaluation; and research and innovation.

Maria is currently Head of European Policies and Public Affairs at the International Union of Wagon Keepers (UIP) where she participates in numerous working and expert groups and deals with relations with the European Commission, European Parliament, the European Union Agency for Railways, sector stakeholders, and the media.

Previously, Maria worked at the European Commission (Unit Intermodality and Logistics); VIADOONAU (a BMVIT Development Agency for Inland Waterways in Vienna, Austria); and in commercial vehicle procurement (department for build and delivery) in the UK.

Make sure you catch Maria Price’s talk: ‘How using Big Data effectively can improve reliability and reduce downtime for your linea assets’ at Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail at 2pm at the Hilton Munich Airport hotel in Germany on 4 October 2017.

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