“Digitalization is a key enabler to even higher safety standards”

Laurent Troger, President of Bombardier Transportation, talks about the impact of digitization on the safety and security of rail and associated costs, harmonisation of technical and legal standards, and industry risks.

“We always put safety first, no exceptions. Now more than ever we believe that our relentless evolution of technical safety is a vital prerequisite for successful mobility solutions. Digitalization is a key enabler to safety standards in the transportation industry. This is for the benefit of rail operators, passengers and society”, Laurent Troger.


Safety and security are obviously very important in transport, but ensuring them carries significant costs. How can operators and manufacturers make mobility safer and more secure while keeping it affordable?

Rail manufacturers have shown that competition and innovation can deliver the safety standards we need at the price we want. For example, as the technology used to develop autonomous vehicles matures, its price drops and Bombardier is already applying those technologies to our rail vehicles. One example is our system to detect obstacles, a cost-effective breakthrough that exponentially improves tram safety. Taken overall, rail is still a very affordable mobility option. The capital costs for a new train account for around one third of its full lifetime cost and today’s trains are safer, more energy efficient, more reliable and easier to maintain then they have ever been.

Technical and legal standards play a huge role in making transportation safe and secure. From the global player’s perspective, where is more harmonisation needed to further improve safety and security?

We have made great progress with the existing European regulations supported by European standards and a single EU-wide authorisation process. These measures have already reduced costs and removed persistent administrative barriers. Signalling standards such as ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) and ETCS (European Train Control System) are also positive achievements that we should be proud of, but are something we still need to build upon.

However, one area where I do see a need to maintain our focus on harmonization is in cyber security. Bombardier is working with other manufacturers, operators, authorities and assessment organizations to create a single, coherent set of safety standards. As critical infrastructures, the cyber security of the entire rail ecosystem’s technical integrity needs to be a focal point in the years ahead. Everyone from manufacturer and operator to the owner and the authority has a significant role to play in ensuring our rail systems aren’t compromised.

Do you see digitalisation and innovation as increasing the safety of rail mobility? Or do you view them as risks?

Digitalization is already improving security. Due to the relative affordability of advanced sensors, manufacturers are leveraging the power of mobility innovations for rolling stock services. This implies predictive maintenance or communication based train control for signalling. Both have increased safety and reduced the potential for human error while improving efficiency. Of course, the Internet of Things, interconnectivity and the potential integration of personal devices into operator’s platforms do present new challenges. But they are challenges that we will mitigate with cyber security solutions like the introduction of faster and more robust telecommunications – for example the Long-Term Evolution, hi-speed wireless standard for signalling infrastructure. It might not be easy to address these new challenges as they emerge, but it’s certainly not impossible. Either way, Bombardier chooses to see digitalization as an advantage and an opportunity.

Laurent Troger will join other transport leaders from across the globe for the ITF 2018 Summit on “Transport Safety and Security” in Leipzig, Germany held from 23 to 25 May. Find out more…

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