The Williams-Shapps plan: looking to the future


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On May 20 of this year, the Williams-Shapps plan for rail and the announcement of Great British Railways – a plan to transform British railways by setting priorities, changes and new transport solutions – took location.

The plan aims to ensure that UK rail is the backbone of a cleaner and more environmentally friendly public transport system by replacing, speeding up and integrating new technologies and regulations.

Andy Bell, Vice President Ground Transportation Systems, Thales UK, explained the company’s perspective on the announcement as well as the potential challenges that could arise along the way.

He said: “The investigation was triggered as a result of difficult experiences in the industry. Overcrowded stations, some poor passenger services and a number of struggling operating companies.

Thales certainly recognizes that there is a need for change. The initial reaction to the report and the plan was that Thales welcomes the plan, Thales welcomes the opportunity to change the way railways operate in the UK, for the better.

BELL – THALES Portraits – 11/05/2018
Photo credit LIGHT EX MACHINA © 2018, all rights reserved.

Frankie Youd (FY): What role will Thales play in achieving the new plan that has been defined?

Andy Bell (Alta.): Thales is a global provider of technological solutions around the world, we are proud to provide a world-class passenger experience, connected networks, greener transport. Much of what Thales is doing fits very well with what the William-Shapps plan described.

So in trying to bring some of this technology into the UK grid, I think Thales has a lot to offer in this space. We certainly think we can support this trip, we are committed to the UK rail market, so we want to be part of making this change in railway construction that everyone is proud of.

Some of the railway principles and the way the railroad works are still based on the Victorian era and the philosophies that existed when railways were first invented. Some of it hasn’t really evolved, although the technology is much more advanced.

Embracing technology on something like signaling control which with today’s technology allows us to integrate it into a cloud-based system which is much better information for station supervisors and The passengers. It saves costs because it is more integrated and allows passengers to plan trips on multiple modes of transport or on different routes. This is a real opportunity for the industry to provide better service at a lower cost.

“The plan itself sets out a pretty ambitious plan for how the railways are to be operated in the future, which gives us the opportunity, as an industry, to see how we provide better service to the world. traveling public.

The plan itself sets out a fairly ambitious plan for how the railways are to be operated in the future, which gives us the opportunity as an industry to examine how we provide better service to the public. traveler, better value for money for taxpayers, and also specifically in the area of ​​Thales, see how we are moving towards new technologies to introduce innovation.

Thales warmly welcomes the plan and looks forward to working with the new organization with other organizations in the sector, with other suppliers and partners who are making it a reality and to effect a change.

FY: What do you think are the most important benefits for passengers as well as for the industry?

A B: The Williams-Shapps plan describes a more centralized organization, a more centralized mode of operation. This gives the opportunity to provide a more integrated rail network and allows investment decisions to be made on a more strategic long-term approach, rather than a local short-term approach.

It should be good for passengers in terms of service, more integrated journeys, more modern technology. For the industry, this is a chance to look at how we can build for the future.

The plan describes intense and more dynamic competition, encouraging new organizations in the market, which I think is good for the industry to stimulate innovation. It’s good for bringing in technology from overseas or other sectors. I think all of this is good news for the industry moving forward, challenging us to innovate, challenging us to deliver better levels of service and better levels of operation.

FY: Do you think there will be challenges along the way?

A B: Changing the way the railroad has been operated for years, I think you can’t underestimate the challenge that will be. I am sure time will tell how well equipped the country and the rail industry are to meet these challenges.

It’s pretty daring and ambitious, so it’s going to take some courageous steps to make this transition to the new type of Great British Railways. I think it’s coming from everyone, from the government, from the operators, from other parts of the industry, from the supply chain. It’s about figuring out how we can work together to make this plan a reality, whether you are a large organization like Thales or small subject matter experts.

I think how all of these react to the challenge will determine its success or whether it is beyond us. Hopefully we can look back in a few years and see that was a bit of a turning point.

FY: In your opinion, which areas should be dealt with first?

A B: I think there are certain operating principles that the plan is designed to address as well as how you bring together – in a more centralized way – the different routes, the rail company, and try to take advantage of it. .

Defining how this more integrated organization is going to work is clearly one of the first steps, because then you can start to see how you will benefit from it. Whether it is a more centralized strategic operational policy, that it uses best practices from different areas and is rolled out across the country.

I think integrating operations, therefore track maintenance, train maintenance, project deployment, service, I think that’s the first key step. I think the other thing Thales would like to see defined from the start is how we work together around innovation and how we plan to introduce some of these new technologies.

This is not just a quick fix, there are certainly areas where improvements can be made in the short term, but if we are to build a railway that is fit for the future, this is part of how we can work together to look at what the future needs are, how we work together to look at the potential for innovation.

FY: Where would you like to see the program a year later?

A B: Over the next year, Thales looks forward to working with the new organization, working with partners and industry to see how this 30-year strategy comes to fruition.

“I think it’s important that everyone works together to make sure this challenging and bold strategy is implemented. “

I think it’s important that everyone works together to ensure that this challenging and bold strategy is implemented. It is important that we all work together over the next few months to shape this strategy.

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