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Following the tracks of Rail industry trends in 2018

Few sectors are under as much discussion as UK rail. The network is rarely out of the spotlight as 70% of rail costs are paid for by the passengers themselves, instead of the rough 50% that used to be made up from tax subsidies. Pressure is mounting on operators to deliver more service value, forcing some surprising changes to how our rail industry fares (pun intended) in the realm of consumer demand.

Are you a skilled worker seeking a position at a rail firm? Or an operator trying to spot trends in the broader UK canvas? Follow Rullion through the tunnel of what to expect in 2018…

Tighter bonds to Chinese trade

Trumpeted as a return to the Silk Road – the millennia-old, land-based trading routes connecting Europe to the Far East – the first freight service to leave London for China arrived in the city of Yiwu on 29th April 2017.

After a 7,500-mile journey, it reached its destination bearing 30 cargo containers packed with pharmaceuticals, whisky and baby products. This is part of President Xi Jinping’s $1trn plan to forge rail delivery networks across the European continent – in which Britain stands as a worthy contender for frequent deliveries. According to Brunel European, these freight journeys save up to 50% of air transport costs, and 12-14 days by sea.

Theresa May’s government has been looking to China for freer, post-Brexit trade deals; she met the President personally in February 2018. Rail transport could be key for the British economy to keep advancing beyond the EU.

Virtual reality gives a glimpse of new trains

The Greater Anglia operating company has been showing passengers what they might expect from their incoming train services. Taking the lead from a wellspring of technical development, the firm has built an interactive virtual reality headset that lands people in a simulated train carriage, visualising a £1.4bn investment slated for 2019.

With this comes the opportunity for feedback, visual impressions and whetting the consumer appetite. In an age where transparency is highly sought-after, rail services will continue to explore the connection between composing investment deals and bringing the public on board.

Increased data partnerships

The more a rail company shares their information with other transport networks, station managers and technical teams, the better the passenger experience will be. Apps from Trainline, Great Western Railway and Virgin Trains already mine countless terabytes of information from their user bases; it’s ripe for sharing with brands like Uber, who can offer further travel bolt-ons within the same application, making a long journey more convenient.

Big Data is another huge incentive for the changing nature of the rail industry. By collecting real-time reports of passenger volume, network faults, repair schedules and weather forecasts, organisations can predict where a delay might occur and minimise debilitating hold-ups for passengers.

Sharing is more than caring – it will be essential when digital models are used for future infrastructure.

More efficient use of energy

Demand for the railway shows no sign of stopping. As high-speed services get under way, energy efficiency will sit itself firmly at the top of the agenda. The increased usage will add itself to the already huge 681 million litres of diesel and 3,141 million kwh of electricity that’s needed every year to keep our trains rolling.

The industry will seek to reach a point where the majority of both freight and passenger journeys operate on electrified routes and that, where possible, low carbon manufacturing methods and sustainable materials will be used in its infrastructure.

It will also look to make use of new technologies to assess demand and capacity more accurately, ensuring empty carriages aren’t wasting valuable resources.

Smarter harnessing of capacity

Future Traffic Regulation Optimisation (FuTRO) is an intelligent management programme that hopes to make it easier for trains to share information, such as position dimensions, speed, and spare capacity.

It is predicted that, by implementing such a system, the rail industry can better adjust train capacity to passenger demand – ensuring the amount of carriages fluctuates with requirement. Best of all, it aims to do this in real-time (and largely automated), also reducing conflicts between services, minimising delays and improving energy efficiency.

Rolling stock will receive another treatment entirely to help improve its capacity. With an average age of around 17 years, simply bringing in newer models may prove enough to dramatically increase the amount they can carry.

Proactive maintenance

The railway is in a constant state of renewal, repair and upkeep – and it’s a costly process. Central to bringing about a change in the reliability and cost of the rail system is revisiting the way maintenance is planned and the materials used to conduct it.

With increases in extreme weather, having a proactive, rather than reactive approach to railway repair is paramount.

As the preservation of our rails becomes a faster and more cost-effective process with the introduction of new building methods and materials, it’s likely that passengers will experience less cancellations and delays due to unscheduled work.

Rullion is actively looking for the best, forward-thinking candidates who will play an important part in the rail industry this year and beyond. We have links to some of the most rewarding rail jobs in the country. See which positions are available today, or contact us to discuss how we can support your recruitment drive.

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