Earlier this week, this year’s RIA Innovation Conference was held in Nottingham, with the rail industry coming out in force for the hotly anticipated event.
After two years of online and hybrid events, it was a fantastic opportunity for 3Squared to meet with friends and colleagues from across the industry. Representing 3Squared at the event was Martin Gleadow, our Solution Architect, and a well-known face across the industry.
Read more on Martin’s takeaways from the event below and the insights he gleaned about the future of the Great British Railways, below:
“The theme of the event this year was “Preparing for Great British Railways”, and it was fantastic to see some high-profile speakers at the event really backing this message. First up on Tuesday was Keith Williams, co-author of last year’s Williams-Shapps report, talking about the progress made by the Great British Railways Transition Team and how the culture of the organisation will be built to be representative of society and to embrace change. Emphasis was put on a need for openness and collaboration, with Great British Railways taking an ‘open by default’ view to data.
“Wednesday’s keynote followed this up with Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, talking about the importance of rail to the nation and the challenges of running a highly complex and highly visible system which delivers significant economic and social value, and how success comes from remembering this is why rail exists; to meet the needs of customers. Peter also talked about his time at Transport for London and how the innovation he saw happening with the data they made available really transformed his view of open data.
“Elsewhere there were representatives from across the industry sharing their experiences and innovation journeys, as well as opportunities for the supply chain and examples of successes. Stand outs for me were Toufic Machnouk talking about the East Coast Digital Programme implementing digital signalling on a key route in the UK, and Professor Sarah Sharples sharing views on her role as Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for Transport and how she came to be working in rail.
“There were also workshop sessions both days, where on Tuesday I chose to attend an RSSB session on the Rail Technical Strategy and three of their current cohort of placement students ran through research they have undertaken into battery technology, sensors, and digital twins. The next day, I joined a Train Operating Company session, learning about how LNER and Transport for Wales approach innovation and use it to change behaviours and meet customer needs and desires.
“Outside of the formal sessions there was exhibition space and networking time, allowing me to see what a range of organisations have been up to and to catch up with people I have not seen for a while. All in all, it was a great couple of days and a valuable opportunity to meet up with representatives from across the rail industry to understand trends, challenges and opportunities and I would definitely recommend getting involved next year.”