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Getting ready for the Digital Railway

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The modernisation of the signalling and control systems that manage Britain’s railway will represent a sizeable chunk of the planned investment for CP6 and beyond.

Over the course of the next decade, conventional systems will be phased out and replaced with new digital, in-cab technology which will ultimately make lineside signals redundant.

From this year, we are changing the name of the Signalling Engineer of the Year category to the Control and Communications Engineer of the Year to reflect these changes in the sector at the RailStaff Awards.

Industrial communications specialist Westermo – a long-standing supporter of the awards evening – is sponsoring the new Control and Communications Engineer of the Year category.

Westermo’s sales manager, Phil Mounter, said the evolution of signalling and telecommunications technology presented a massive opportunity for the sector but that it would also demand a lot from the sector’s engineering workforce.

“The field of signalling and train control is changing dramatically within the rail industry and our engineers are changing with it.

“The RailStaff Awards has always highlighted industry best practice and this category in particular will reward the hard work that is going on all around the country to adapt to emerging technologies so the railway can realise the benefits for passengers.”

Skills development

Last year, Westermo announced it would be supporting Southampton Solent University by providing the university’s computer networking department with specialist communications equipment and helping shape the university’s curriculum.

By introducing students to the technology that underpins the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Westermo believes it will be able to make a positive contribution to bridging the widening digital skills gap which is challenging numerous industries, including rail.

Phil said: “This award is so important because we all know the industry needs to do more to inspire and encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering. Initiatives such as the Digital Railway and the Internet of Things (IoT) make telecommunications and train control an exciting field to enter.

“It is so important to show young men and women what the industry can offer while they’re still in education that’s why we’ve formed partnerships with Solent University in Southampton and the National College of High Speed Rail in Doncaster and Birmingham.”

Proud sponsor

Although well established in the UK, Westermo is a global company. From its headquarters in Sweden, the business has developed its offering of On Train networks in recent years and employs more than 200 people around the world.

At the end of 2017, Westermo appointed Jenny Sjödahl as the company’s new CEO. She said she was looking forward to leading the company through its next phase of development.

Last year, the category was won by the IP Signalling Northern LNE Construction Team. The nomination was in recognition of the successful delivery of several resignalling schemes, including North Lincs, Ferriby, Brigg, South Kirkby and Huddersfield to Bradford.

Phil said: “Westermo is proud to support the RailStaff Awards because rewarding those in our industry who work hard and deliver consistently is absolutely vital. It is so important to stop and say thank you. If we do this we can inspire others to go that extra mile and help improve things for our customers.”

Information about this year’s RailStaff Awards evening and how you can nominate someone for an award can be found on the website: www.railstaffawards.com.

Read more: RailStaff Awards: Better every year