Tackling rapid population growth at global rail event in New Delhi from 20-22 November 2019


Global population is expected to grow by 2 billion to almost 10 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations’ World Populations Prospects 2019 report. Up to 14% of this increase is expected in India (273 million), with much of Asia also set to experience above-average growth rates. The growing demand this implies is likely to intensify pressure on railway operations and infrastructure, requiring the sector to work harder to maintain, and raise, standards.

Within this context, what are rail-sector buyers most interested in learning about?

Data collected over the past 5 years by International Railway Summit through its buyer-expert matchmaking portal show that rail operators and rolling stock manufacturers are most interested in learning about improving ‘safety’ (58% of respondents), ‘operational efficiency’ (58%) and ‘the passenger/customer experience’ (55%). It is precisely in these areas where congested networks threaten to place strain.

The 8th International Railway Summit in New Delhi, partnered with the International Union of Railways (UIC), is focussed therefore on one big question:

‘How can rail transport best keep pace with rapid population growth?’.

Through a 2-day conference programme, sector leaders and innovators will debate and discuss the implications of this question for rail and for wider society.

A flexible long-term planning strategy should be the foundation for a railway system’s response to change. In this light, the conference will open by discussing what the next generation of transport planning will look like. Elisabeth Werner, Director Land Transport, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE), European Commission (EC), will deliver a keynote speech and François Davenne, Director General of the UIC, will send a special address.

A subsequent panel discussion will hear from representatives of the kinds of organisation who are vital in realising a successful plan: national governments, banks, and operators. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism (MLIT), and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality will take part.

High-speed networks are amongst the largest, and most controversial, projects for railway planners. All over the world, high-speed rail lines are now being constructed, mothballed, or abandoned. Is high-speed rail worth it? Do the apparent benefits, such as spreading wealth or reducing congestion, outweigh the great cost involved?

On the morning of Thursday 21 November, MP Singh, CEO & CTO of the High Speed Rail Corporation of India, will make a keynote speech outlining the decision process for the ongoing Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR project. Joining Mr Singh in debate will be Carlo Borghini, Executive Director of Shift2Rail, and Gerald Ollivier, Chief Transport Specialist at the World Bank.

How can we best manage the growing pressure on capacity? The overwhelming majority of the additional 2 billion population will be concentrated in urban areas. From multimodal collaboration to

new train carriages, from expanding networks to upgrading signalling, the railway family must decide how to cope with growing demand.

William Sabandar, President & CEO, MRT Jakarta, represents the perspective of a new market entrant operating in one of the world’s most densely populated cities. Tilak Raj Seth, Executive Vice President & CEO – Mobility Division, Siemens India, will elaborate on advances in signalling, automation, and rolling stock design.

A good passenger experience means reliability and comfort, and comfort often means space. With space at a premium, how can operators, rolling stock manufacturers, and station owners improve passenger experience and increase capacity at the same time?

Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (LMRCL), will share his organisation’s efforts and incentives, alongside digital bag as a service experts dgBirds.

Safety must remain the core priority of the railways, informing every minor adjustment or major revolution. With more people using the network, rail must heighten its awareness of the dangers to passengers.

Human error is the leading cause of accidents on the railways, whether as a result of fatigue, mismanagement, or misbehaviour. Understanding human factors in rail safety through technology and psychology is vital to protect and save lives.

What is the balance that must be struck between operations and maintenance conducted by people, and reliance on sensors and artificial intelligence? How far can we improve safety records by understanding the way people think and behave?

Psychologist Dr Ulla Metzger of Deutsche Bahn will share her insights on the relationship between man and machine.

With so many railway networks in public hands, and so few making profits, the question of public-private partnerships is of great importance. With rapid population growth set to squeeze the bottom line still further, when and how should rail attract private investment?

The Indian Government is currently considering the privatisation of certain rail routes. In conjunction with the Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, this step would mark a significant opening of the country’s market to new revenue streams and expertise. Can rail devise a win-win strategy, whereby investors and investees alike can benefit financially?

The railway sector cannot rest from pursuing fresh ideas and new technologies. In addition to the main conference programme, the International Railway Summit offers opportunities to showcase pioneering projects and niche solutions, within technical reviews, innovation spotlights, and 30-minute special presentations.

In February 2016 in Vienna, delegates heard from Hyperloop when it was still in its infancy. In February 2018 in Prague, Deutsche Bahn walked attendees through their ‘Idea Train’, while the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) introduced the extraordinary Clip-Air concept.

Dedicated networking time

When facing sector-wide challenges, companies must seek collaboration wherever they can and break out of conservative mindsets. The International Railway Summit focusses on meeting, making friends, and building new and prosperous alliances.

Key to this is absorbing local knowledge, taking lessons from every country and culture you encounter. The summit begins with technical visits to railway facilities in the host city. Attendees will interact with local experts, inspect new projects, and experience best practice behind-the-scenes of Indian rail.

A welcome reception and dinner on the opening evening, an offsite dinner at a restaurant in central New Delhi, coffee breaks, and buffet lunches offer 10 hours of time especially dedicated to networking, with the five-star luxury Hyatt Regency the perfect stress-free setting

Making the right connections

The 8th International Railway Summit offers a bespoke schedule of pre-arranged meetings far from the brief and disordered encounters that can define many trade shows. ‘Buyers’ looking for solutions to their project requirements meet the ‘experts’ who can provide precisely what they need.

About the 8th International Railway Summit

Before the summit, buyer and expert companies choose who they meet based on their profiles and expertise. This leads to 30-minute meetings between decision-makers and product innovators at the summit.

The International Railway Summit is a unique 3-day networking event for the railway sector. Besides a full conference programme, the summit features a range of formal and informal networking functions, including dinners and technical visits, and bespoke meetings between ‘buyer’ and ‘expert’ companies. The event will be hosted in India for the first time from 20-22 November 2019, with senior figures from around the globe gathering at the Hyatt Regency hotel in New Delhi.

In continued recognition of the summit’s success and reach, the International Union of Railways (UIC) will partner the summit for the fifth time in New Delhi. The 2-day programme will be chaired throughout by Christian Chavanel, the UIC’s Director of Rail Systems.

Attendance information

Organisations and individuals interested in learning more about the International Railway Summit and about how they can participate in this event can visit www.irits.org or contact the organisers, IRITS Events.

Readers of Metro Rail News can enjoy a special discount of 24% until 15 November. Visit www.irits.org/mrn-offer to receive the discount code.

13th International Railway Equipment Exhibition (IREE) 2019


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