TSR Talks: How do you think technology/innovation can improve rail travel in the UK?

Watch
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 5 days ago
#1
With passenger numbers doubling in the last twenty years, how can our rail network continue to meet ever-increasing demand? Without the room to build new track and the current network nearing capacity, will new approaches and new technology provide the answer?

At Network Rail we’re responsible for over 20,000 miles of track and 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts. This means we’re playing a huge part solving this problem, by encouraging our experts to think differently, challenge tradition, embrace innovation and push boundaries.

Having seen the positive impact digital technology has had on motorways, London Underground and air travel, we’re incredibly excited to see what it will do for rail. Today’s aspiring engineers and business experts could be the key to connecting people to jobs and goods to market for years to come.

Has there ever been a more exciting time to join the rail industry? The world class training and support we give all our graduates puts them in an incredible position to capitalise on new opportunities and make their mark on some of the most revolutionary projects that our industry has ever seen. Could you help shape the future of transport, our economy and millions of lives with a career in rail?

What do you think about the future of the rail system? How much do you know about the work that we do? How much do you want to know about it? We welcome all your questions and thoughts, let’s open up this discussion!

Arjun Johal
Graduate Civil Engineer
Spoiler:
Show

My name is Arjun Singh Johal, I’m currently a Graduate Civil Engineer working for Network Rail, having studied Civil Engineering (BEng Hons) at Coventry University.

I previously worked for Network Rail on a couple of occasions, dating back to secondary school with a 2 week work experience placement, as well as a year-in-industry as part of my degree so personally it wasn’t a very hard decision in choosing Network Rail as the company I chose to work for following university.

There were a number of positives I took from my past experience to entice me into coming back to Network Rail, including my previous experience from my year-in-industry in particular, the variety the business has to offer in terms of areas/functions outside of engineering, and the people who work for the company, who were very welcoming and inclusive.

The same things can be said of my current experience, as having been on the engineering graduate scheme for a year now, I am constantly learning, adapting and innovating, as well as being challenged, as you’ll find that even after 5-10 years of experience with Network Rail, there will invariably be some function/operation you will not have come across.

Menaz Ahamed
Graduate Mechanical Engineer
Spoiler:
Show
My name is Menaz and I am a Graduate Mechanical Engineer at Network Rail. I studied a BEng in Mechanical Engineering at Queen Mary University of London, followed by an MSc in Automotive and Motorsport Engineering at Brunel University London. I joined the Network Rail Engineering Graduate Scheme in September 2019 and have enjoyed every moment of it! There are many different projects going on at the same time which means that no two days are the same. Also, when you join as a graduate at Network Rail you are encouraged to spend time with many different departments such as finance, sponsorship, operations etc. in order to increase understanding of the business. This is followed by 3 rotational engineering placements in the field of your choice which provides invaluable exposure to different engineering functions so early on in your career. Furthermore, the graduate scheme allows you to make significant progress towards your chartership over the course of the programme.

Jocelyn Kacou
Project Engineer
Spoiler:
Show
Up until 2016 I was a retail manager and was working for the biggest supermarket in the UK. I always felt that I had the potential to do more with myself, and for myself.

I stopped and attended South Bank University in London, where I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering with a strong building services flavour.

I never had any intention of working for the railway and never thought of the railway as a potential career move, and my encounter with Networkrail was an accident. In my final year at university, one of my fellow students failed the NR recruitment process and suggested I apply as he thought I would be more suited for the type of questions he had to answer. I eventually agreed, and this event became my first interaction with NR. My landing with the Digital Railway and Networkrail Telecoms, Which I joined in September 2018, were equally accidental as I initially applied for an Electrical Engineering graduate position.

On joining NRT, I discovered there was no structured scheme for the Telecoms graduates, and I decided to take on the challenge and help set up such a scheme. The overall framework of the scheme is now in place and the NR Telecoms graduate scheme should welcome their first dedicated graduates in 2021.

In January 2020 I had my first appointment as a Project Engineer within NRT, on the delivery side of the business.

My line management has supported my application for further studies and development and as of the 22nd September 2020, I have been accepted onto a level 7 apprentice degree with the university of Portsmouth where I am studying for a Msc in Risk and Safety management.
4
reply
StrawberryDreams
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#2
Report 5 days ago
#2
What are the best parts of each of your roles? Your journey's there sounds really interesting!
0
reply
EllieO
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#3
Report 5 days ago
#3
Hello, how is live passenger number data being used?

I don't like standing on the train, could there be a live app/ schedule board feature to tell me how busy a train is/ is predicted to be?

I am a big fan of the Trainline app and I notice it often asks me to report how busy my train carriage is. Could this data and ticket sales/ barrier uses number be used to report live/ predict how busy a train will be?

(On a not very related note: I work/ study in the healthcare sector and I love the WaitLess app. It uses live patient numbers in A&E/ Urgent Treatment departments and local traffic levels to predict which centre will allow you to be seen soonest.)
0
reply
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#4
Report Thread starter 4 days ago
#4
(Original post by EllieO)
Hello, how is live passenger number data being used?

I don't like standing on the train, could there be a live app/ schedule board feature to tell me how busy a train is/ is predicted to be?

I am a big fan of the Trainline app and I notice it often asks me to report how busy my train carriage is. Could this data and ticket sales/ barrier uses number be used to report live/ predict how busy a train will be?

(On a not very related note: I work/ study in the healthcare sector and I love the WaitLess app. It uses live patient numbers in A&E/ Urgent Treatment departments and local traffic levels to predict which centre will allow you to be seen soonest.)
Hi,
I hate standing on trains as well, and I can understand your frustration. There are initiatives in the pipeline to try and understand how best to use live data. There are however many challenges attached to that. One of the key objectives of Networkrail is to successfully manage the railway infrastructure in a safe and reliable manner. With the examples you have given with the exception of the A&E one, I can see a reliability issue. How for example, can you tell that the carriage that was reported full a few minutes earlier will not be emptying at your stop? Using barriers data will present a similar challenge as it is almost impossible to tell which train the passenger will be taking... There is a lot of research happening around those areas, however we need to establish how reliable the data is...
I hope this helps...
1
reply
barnetlad
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#5
Report 4 days ago
#5
Longer trains and also splitting some along the route, as they do with the London to Hove trains (half go to Eastbourne). My local route (Great Northern) now is always six carriages which is an improvement.
1
reply
Josh Dodge
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#6
Report 4 days ago
#6
I not only get the train to college but before lockdown I used to travel alot for leisure by train and the number 1 issues for all the students I know is pricing buses while less safe and more unreliable are at least in my area £4 cheaper than taking the train even with my railcard discount. If the government wants to get more people off polluting diesel buses and onto cleaner trains pricing is the first thing they need to tackle
0
reply
DilatedPeoples
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#7
Report 4 days ago
#7
When looking at career options, I am always torn between heart and head. This is the same with Network Rail. My head shows good job prospects, progressive work place and building on core engineering skills. My heart is saying that the rail industry is ruining areas of the country to great extents and certain projects being funded by government are less beneficial to general society than others.

What would you say to these two points? Is the rail industry honestly a good place to work? Head and heart answers please!
1
reply
Pog32
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#8
Report 3 days ago
#8
If demand is doubling then the solution would be to have faster trains, it's not cheap but mag'lev trains would be good
0
reply
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#9
Report Thread starter 3 days ago
#9
(Original post by Pog32)
If demand is doubling then the solution would be to have faster trains, it's not cheap but mag'lev trains would be good
Hi,

The maglev would be a very interesting option. You are very right in mentioning the cost implications. Your suggestions come with some real challenges.
Faster trains for example need more track distance to reach their top speed, which will mean major signalling changes, with trains unable to serve some stations as they may be too close together. I think we might also need more trains to go with the faster ones, with very little or no capacity left in parts of the country.
A question I have with the maglev besides the high cost is, where does it get installed? We can see the high costs involved with HS2 in terms of land acquisitions. Can it be used to replace main lines long distance trains? There are many more challenges involved and the biggest I suspect is how do we mix this new technology will the current network?
These are some of the challenging questions the UK railway network tries to answer every day.
I hope to have answered your suggestion
0
reply
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#10
Report Thread starter 3 days ago
#10
(Original post by DilatedPeoples)
When looking at career options, I am always torn between heart and head. This is the same with Network Rail. My head shows good job prospects, progressive work place and building on core engineering skills. My heart is saying that the rail industry is ruining areas of the country to great extents and certain projects being funded by government are less beneficial to general society than others.

What would you say to these two points? Is the rail industry honestly a good place to work? Head and heart answers please!
Hello,
My take on this is that some areas of the country would be cut off from the rest of the country if it wasn't for the railway. Network rail does invest a lot of time and resources to at least maintain the biodiversity along the tracks. In addition 100% of the energy used to power trains is from responsible sources, so I personally think they are trying hard to cause the least possible damage to the country and environment.
As for the question about the rail industry being a good place to work, it would be difficult for me to try and answer this question without sounding biased. I can honestly tell you that it is the most inclusive, diverse, people focused industry I have worked in. And this is not my first job. It is probably high time you in and discover for yourself.
0
reply
tinygirl96
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#11
Report 3 days ago
#11
What tips do you have for newbies to the industry? How much research do you do each year? Tell me about current campaigns.
0
reply
Username6478
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#12
Report 2 days ago
#12
Hello I must say it's quite expensive on the railway and this have always been an issue for me ever since I started travelling by train now.

If you are going short distances I can be cheaper than a bus sometimes but it can actually be more expensive in some other areas.

I also been looking at tickets to Southampton - penzance and you want to charge people for £900 a ticket for a return.

Lucky I found the cheapest using trainpal which is £400 which is still expensive so I will try and look for split tickets as they are useally very cheap using train pal.


And Southampton to - Thurso is £900 which is just ridiculous price of course using train pal I found cheap deals and split tickets and the cheapest from there is £700 so I would think if you are going on holiday you are more than likely getting charged more on the train than taking a coach.

I was looking for day tickets on the railway and it seem Southampton is only covered on one ticket that seems cheaper if you are travelling on the railway.

GWR has this ticket that allows you to travel anywhere on the network for £500 which is cheapest way to get to Scotland but still expensive if you don't have this funding.

So let's break this up about tickets being expensive in sertain areas.

Woolston to - Southampton air port parkway using the one a day southern service to Southampton Central then the Cross country service to Manchester and you get off at Southampton Air port parkway is £5


But if you are at chandlers Ford (Eastleigh) wishing to get to Southampton Central which is just the same distance to Woolston is a £10 return.

Why is the railway also so expensive on the day of booking your ticket and its cheaper like next month if you are in a rush and you go to the train station you are charged 2X the amount.

I hope this concern can get solved.
Network Rail
0
reply
tim.euro
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#13
Report 2 days ago
#13
ticket prices are a pretty expensive and it’s not financially viable for me to travel via train, if they made it cheaper i would undoubtedly take the train rather than the hour long bus ride
0
reply
jamiet0185
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#14
Report 2 days ago
#14
I would say the main thing that needs to be done is to make it much harder to fare dodge, because the more people that pay, the cheaper tickets can get and the more can be invested in the railway. Low maintenance ticket barriers should be installed at at least every staffed station and I'm curious about what could be done at smaller stations. Perhaps a ticket barrier that, if it develops a fault, just automatically stays open could be installed with the aim that it will be working 95% of the time. I genuinely think that on the line I travel on up to 50-60% of people don't buy tickets so the benefit would be sizeable. I've seen similar things used in public toilets that you have to pay for, and obviously the people are paying very little to use a toilet in comparison to a railway ticket so I'm sure it would be economical on the railway.
Another thing, if the displays on the platform are able to tell us exactly how many carriages the train will have, why is this information not readily available online? It would help people to choose less crowded trains etc... particularly during COVID
Last edited by jamiet0185; 2 days ago
0
reply
Dee-Emma
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#15
Report 2 days ago
#15
Three thoughts.

Post Covid, now that flexible /distance working has become normalised for desk based work, and many meetings can move to zoom, the need for peak time commuting travel could be much reduced. Also the location of such jobs no longer needs to be south-east UK based. If some office presence is still required then ticketing will need to reflect that. Commute once a week? Neither season tickets nor individual purchases really fit that model.

And

If that suggests that the current network models are obselete, what will the new reality look like.. Train travel moving from commuter traffic to a leisure and long distance option competing with air, car and coach - where loading and pricing are very different.

And finally. Rail is not sacred. Its just another way to provide transport in exchange for payment and needs to be fully integrated with all other modes of travel - in price and timetabling and in seamless integration with those other systems. Through ticketing from uber to bus to train to ferry to air and to other models of personal transport including driverless cars and bicycle systems.

Trains barely made it out of the 19th century, time to move on to the 21st.
0
reply
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#16
Report Thread starter 1 day ago
#16
(Original post by StrawberryDreams)
What are the best parts of each of your roles? Your journey's there sounds really interesting!
Hello,
I was about to say the travel, but I have been unable to do so since March...
My role varies depending on the project I am working on. What I enjoy most is that versatility. No projects are the same and the challenges we face are very different. One explanation is that the equipment and technologies that are in use vary from part of the country to the next.
0
reply
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#17
Report Thread starter 1 day ago
#17
(Original post by Josh Dodge)
I not only get the train to college but before lockdown I used to travel alot for leisure by train and the number 1 issues for all the students I know is pricing buses while less safe and more unreliable are at least in my area £4 cheaper than taking the train even with my railcard discount. If the government wants to get more people off polluting diesel buses and onto cleaner trains pricing is the first thing they need to tackle

Hi,
The travel cost issue is a recurring one. There are many parameters involved in setting prices, and Networkrail only plays a small part in this process.
It is my understanding that the government along players in the industry are working on schemes to make Britain's railway of the future more affordable. Unfortunately, I will say this is more of a long term goal than short term. ETCS for example, advocates the standardisation and interoperability of equipment, as well as many other features that should help make economies of scale, which in return will be passed on to the passengers.
Hope this starts answering your great questions...
0
reply
Network Rail
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#18
Report Thread starter 1 day ago
#18
(Original post by tim.euro)
ticket prices are a pretty expensive and it’s not financially viable for me to travel via train, if they made it cheaper i would undoubtedly take the train rather than the hour long bus ride
Hi,
The travel cost issue is a recurring one. There are many parameters involved in setting prices, and Networkrail only plays a small part in this process.
It is my understanding that the government along players in the industry are working on schemes to make Britain's railway of the future more affordable. Unfortunately, I will say this is more of a long term goal than short term. ETCS for example, advocates the standardisation and interoperability of equipment, as well as many other features that should help make economies of scale, which in return will be passed on to the passengers.
Hope this starts answering your great questions...
0
reply
glassalice
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#19
Report 1 day ago
#19
How environmentally sustainable is travelling by train in comparison to car?
Why are train fairs so expensive in the UK?
Why is the train service so unreliable compared to other counties? What would have to change for the train service to become more reliable?
0
reply
maymv02
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#20
Report 16 hours ago
#20
maybe this isn't the answer you're looking for, but as a student who can't get a job due to covid and is paying for travel with my lunch money, i don't think enough of your train staff understand the anxiety we face if we kids can't afford a ticket/had no way to buy one.

we have to start paying adult fairs at 16- what makes you think we can afford that? we don't suddenly get a full time job that can pay. i understand that there's a railcard, which i do have, and it's not exactly expensive, but it just shouldn't even be needed. soon i turn 18 and would have to pay £4.40 for a 20 minute journey, with the 16-25 railcard... and that's to go to the only college near me not more than an hour away. there are an estimated 4.6 million kids in poverty. they dont have a choice in going to school or college on the trains yet your staff are fining them in situations they have no control over.
I once got fined as i wasn't able to buy a ticket- office was closed and machine was not working. no conductor came down the train and i was left panicking not knowing what to do. when i got to my destination there was a large group of transport police seemingly waiting to catch people out. i explained my problem and was told i should have "knocked on the drivers door". i was 14- how the hell am i meant to know that? i got fined and made to pay the full adult fare on the spot, which was almost all of the money i had on me at the time. your staff are not kind when explaining these things to teens and kids. they are intimidating and patronising. they think that us teens are all the same- trying to bunk the train. and when we explain ourselves they won't accept it. i wonder if OAPs would be treated differently? yet i can't boycott or choose a different mode of transport because the buses are just as expensive. i just dont understand why i would have to suffer as a result of something that isn't my fault. it makes me so so frustrated.

another example of unfair treatment is when i was travelling back from london to ashford on the high speed train. i tried to get a ticket but the machine malfunctioned (we took a picture of the message on the screen for proof) and so a member of staff just beeped us through and told us not to worry, to tell a member of staff at ashford what happened. surprise, we got met with a doubting, patronising older man who fined us. of course, the penalty got removed after i emailed as it was not my fault, but i still had to pay an adult fare. there was no way for me to pay with my railcard. i just feel like as a teenager it is so disheartening to feel like money is just being robbed off of you for a service that you don't even want to use, but have no choice. i wish the rail service in the uk wasn't privatised- all that the company owners care about is competing and making profit, not taking regular working class citizens into account.
by writing this im not expecting to change anything, as no one really listens or cares, but i hope someone reads it and can relate or atleast just understand a different point of view. hopefully the future of rail travel will be fairer, and kinder
2
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Should there be a new university admissions system that ditches predicted grades?

No, I think predicted grades should still be used to make offers (519)
33.7%
Yes, I like the idea of applying to uni after I received my grades (PQA) (638)
41.43%
Yes, I like the idea of receiving offers only after I receive my grades (PQO) (313)
20.32%
I think there is a better option than the ones suggested (let us know in the thread!) (70)
4.55%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed