How technology can be the catalyst for change in the rail sector

Rail, construction & skills Ellis Fox blog

In construction, the rail sector is one that is certainly embracing technology and digital transformation. The implementation of digital signalling systems, for example, is helping trains operate more efficiently, maintaining timely schedules even with greater frequency. Smart monitoring systems are providing operators with real time alerts for faults and helping with pre-emptive maintenance that reduces railway closures or down time.

To be able to implement digital technologies in rail, the sector will need to attract a great deal of technical talent: system engineers, technical workers, digital professional as well as experienced IT project managers that can oversee the implementation of new technologies. It’s also a great opportunity for rail to attract talent from other sectors.

Estimates are that rail, and in particular high speed rail will be responsible for as many as 100000 new jobs by 2027. Rail has largely been viewed as an ‘old school’ type job and has failed to attract school leavers. It has been overlooked in favour of IT and commerce. But with rail making a proactive effort towards digital transformation, perhaps this will change. If young people can see more exciting career opportunities within rail involving cutting edge technology, it could well boost the skills needed by the industry.

Opportunity for skills transfer

Rail is a critical part of Britain’s infrastructure and often comes under harsh public criticism when there are delays and disruptions. With increasing extreme weather, there will also be the requirement to design and build rail infrastructure can withstand flooding, snow blizzards and extreme heat.  This too is creating opportunities to attract more diverse talent into the industry.

Environmental scientists, geologists as well as environmentally minded innovators could provide unique solutions to the problems being presented by climate change.  Working collaboratively with engineers and main contractors they could help create efficiencies in projects while ensuring they are more sustainable.

Diversity and innovation are two of the factors contributing to commercial success and competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. Add to that current economic stressors and contractors really can’t afford to ignore the advantages of technology. Not only could it be the factor that attracts more diverse expertise to the sector, it also promises greater efficiency though smart technology and innovation.

If you have a strong interest in digital transformation and experience in the rail or infrastructure sectors, you could be a sought after candidate in the industry. The Ellis Fox team would love to hear from you. Email us on or tel: 020 7183 0255