A round-up of Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail conference

At a time when digitalisation of the global rail industry is the most important development for the sector this century, industry experts and leaders gathered in Munich, Germany on 4 October 2017 for Global Railway Review’s inaugural conference to discuss experiences and share knowledge on utilising big data and improving operations.

Over 100 delegates attended Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail in Munich on 4 October 2017

Digitalisation: Harnessing in Big Data in Rail conference was formed with a specific aim: to bring together thought-leaders and decision-makers within the global rail sector to discuss, debate and share ideas and knowledge of how the industry can work together and learn from experiences to advance the use of big data and digital solutions to future-proof the operational success of railways.

With an impressive speaker line-up arranged around the most important topics impacting the digital rail sector, the conference Chairman, Professor Diego Galar – Head of Condition Monitoring within the Department of Operations and Maintenance Engineering at Lulea University of Technology – opened with an address to urge delegates that “as the railway faces a new time, it is the ideas from different stakeholders throughout this event that you will leave with and need to implement to move forward”.

The morning agenda included a number of main presentations showcasing issues affecting infrastructure and rolling stock, and a panel discussion on the topic of Collaborative Intelligence, with a focus on integrating data streams from the Internet of Things (IoT).

Providing the keynote address was Björn Westerberg, CEO of ASTOC (the Association of Swedish Rail Operating Companies) who explained the current regulatory aspects of data utilisation and stated that “big data will absolutely change the rail industry”. Björn further explained that the sector’s ‘data explosion’ is driven by connected devices that offer opportunities for real-time and proactive safety monitoring systems for railways.

Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail

Björn Westerberg discussed data utilisation and explained how big data will change the rail industry

Some of the other speakers and their topics presented during the morning included using big data to manage rail infrastructure reliability from John Easton at the BCRRE; how the Dutch Railways (NS) uses big data to improve performance, reduce downtime and optimise costs by Bob Huisman; and how High Speed Two is establishing asset information management from Douglas Young.

Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail

Douglas Young discussed HS2

After a networking lunch break, the afternoon session began with an informative joint presentation from Maria Price, Head of European Policies and Public Affairs of the International Union of Wagon Keepers (UIP) and Henk Samson, Senior Programme Manager of Business Development and Innovation at Strukton Rail. They discussed the opportunities and current big data solutions available to improve rail freight services and asset management.

Some of the other speakers and their topics throughout the afternoon included a view from Jürg Balsiger of Swiss Federal Railways on how useful data really is and the ways in which more can be obtained, and quickly; Gerald Schinagl of ÖBB-BCC got analytical over the real-time and semi real-time challenges of data handling; and Daniel Dotzl of Wiener Linien provided a local public transport provider perspective on the challenges of big data.

Furthermore, Diego Galar (the event’s Chairman) also took the stage for two separate informative presentations: the first to explain the importance of correctly connecting all assets and how this will significantly optimise fleet management, health monitoring, location tracking and remote data access, and the second to explore the future of big data and its applications for the rail sector.

Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail

The conference’s Chairman, Diego Galar, addressed the importance of correctly connecting all assets

Throughout the day’s networking breaks, at-stand presentations from some of the event’s sponsors took place, giving delegates an additional learning platform and to find out more about some of the digital and data solutions available to the industry.

Global Railway Review would like to thank all speakers and sponsors involved for contributing to the huge success of the event – their willingness to share knowledge and experience is crucial for industry development and with their input, the conference has paved the way for the sector to now improve and implement the many ideas raised.

2 responses to “A round-up of Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail conference”

  1. john porrill says:

    For those of us unable or unaware of this conference, is it possible to obtain copies of the presentation material?

    • Rachael Harper says:

      Hi John

      Thank you for getting in contact with Global Railway Review. Unfortunately, copies of the presentation material from Digitalisation: Harnessing Big Data in Rail are unavailable to those who were unable to attend the conference.

      We will, however, be holding an updated version of this event next year. Keep an eye out on for all information on our upcoming events.

      Kind regards

      The Global Railway Review Team

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