Railways are well placed to become the sustainable backbone of future mass mobility. IoT in combination with better connectivity and emerging technologies potentially has a massive role to play, writes Annie Turner.
To meet environmental targets, mass transit of passengers has become a priority. To fulfil that role, the rail industry needs to present itself as more attractive means of transport than alternatives such as personal cars and air travel – something of a challenge in the era of COVID-19 when people are keen to avoid crowded spaces and some have come to regard trains and railway stations as unsafe.
There is just cause for optimism though, as Jules Omura, managing director of organiser IRITS Events, observed in his opening remarks at the tenth [virtual] International Railway Summit, titled ‘Predict and prepare, strategies for exiting the long Covid tunnel’:
“This new normal has hit the railway sector badly but it also gives us the chance to pause and reset when we can no longer rely on past data and the regular revenue,” he said. “We could either keep doing what we have always done, and keep our fingers crossed, or we can be creative, we can challenge our preconceptions and do something new.”
Another speaker at the event, Jash Bansidhar, managing director at Advantech, said, “This crisis created the acceleration of innovation,” he said. “It’s not only the way that people live and the way we are working but also how we can help the community to open up again, and to make people feel safe on public transport. It is a catalyst for innovation.”