On the ground at APTA Rail 2018

Sharing knowledge is at the heart of building a smart, successful rail industry. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is the leading institution of its kind in the US and holds several conferences and events across the country; APTA Rail 2018 covers everything from the latest industry innovations to updates on operations and maintenance for urban, commuter, high-speed, and inter-city rail modes. To mark the occasion, Network Rail Consulting sent a team of four experts to join conversations on the most pressing issues in the industry. 

When spending time at APTA there is always something to do. Alongside the time spent informally meeting and discussing industry issues, more formal panel discussions and presentations are a great way to check in on what other professionals have been up to over the year; three of our representatives participated during the event. Andrew Hutton, Practice Lead for Stations and Commercial Development, brought the redevelopment of London Bridge Station as a case study, sharing both the challenges the team faced and the solutions they discovered to overcome them. Gordon Williams, Associate Vice President, Northeast, also presented in a key session discussing NRC’s recent success in helping MBTA increase the length of their work windows. Finally, Joe Black attended several APTA committee meetings as the interim VP of West, including the Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee. The presence of our professionals at these committees and talks were one of the reasons we had such a successful booth at the tradeshow this year – a testament to the rewards of sharing time and expertise with others in the sector.  

Beyond sharing our own insights, APTA offered a great opportunity to hear other senior experts discuss the issues at play in their operational areas. Alongside many interesting presentations, Andrew Hutton told us of an engaging talk by Greg Williams, the editor-in-chief for Wired Magazine. His address, based on fast-moving technological innovations, noted some interesting implications for the rail industry and what they could mean for the future of the field. Talks like these offer a valuable opportunity to learn about how the wider world interconnects with the rail industry, and asks questions of how the industry can respond.

After attending the three-day event, Andrew shared the importance of industry events such as these. Alongside trading ideas, Andrew highlighted the importance of conferences as an opportunity for networking with likeminded professionals: ‘It’s important that NRC sees and is seen at these events’, Andrew said – ‘each one represents an opportunity to introduce ourselves’. Indeed, time spent discussing the big issues is a chance for Network Rail Consulting to discuss potential solutions; as international consultants, meeting those looking for advice is essential to our practice. Beyond client-facing relationships, Andrew enjoyed reminding us of the very real social element that also exists at APTA, as an opportunity to ‘update friends with all the successful work we’re doing’. Three days of catching up with old friends and colleagues is what APTA is all about. 

Sharing our experiences and learning from others is essential in our continued effort to adapt to the world as it changes, and to drive efficiencies and savings in the rail sector.  Thank you APTA Rail 2018. We look forward to next year.