Where will pioneering spirit take Rail?

the tyerrace initiative

Where will pioneering spirit take Rail?



“So, what’s Rail’s single greatest achievement?”

A conversation starter cast over a beer at the Grand Central pub, after a tough day on an SAP implementation, gets a bite.

A railway veteran who’d started as a “nipper” some 45 years earlier, takes a thoughtful swallow from his pint, sucks his moustache, and sums up rail’s value proposition in two-and-a-half words.

“Fish n chips,” he says with a smirk. He isn’t joking.

Fish and chips, so the story goes, became a stock meal among England’s working classes during the second half of the 19th century. At the same time as trawling developed in the North Sea, railways connected the ports to major industrial cities so that fresh fish could be rapidly transported to heavily populated areas. It became so important that during World War 1 the government took special steps to safeguard supplies. And during World War 2 it was one of the few foods immune from rationing.

Ever since, Rail has been synonymous with progress. A steel supply chain expanding, in its various gauges, across the nation. In Queensland it’s been inseparable in our imagination from pioneering spirit. Rail connected the North to the South and the Central-West line – narrow gauge chasing the Tropic of Capricorn towards the setting sun – opened the West.

Rail has been a building block of our economy and communities. It connected the city to the bush, the suburbs to work and school, mines, station and farms to port, and soldiers to their loved ones.

Today’s reality is less romantic. All futures remain uncertain, but Rail’s appears especially precarious. The climb of disruptive technologies such as Big Data, Digitalisation, Automation and AI to the “peak of inflated expectations” on Gartner’s Hype Cycle calls into question Rail’s role in transportation’s value chain, our digital lives, and journeys (which no longer rely on one mode of transport).

The Terrace Initiative, its partners, and clients have moved beyond the peak of inflated expectations. They are quietly building the future through large-scale, transformation programs and answering their complex challenges. For example: How might we best implement European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2? What’s the secret to successfully delivering Electronic Train Graph (ETG) implementations? Why can it be more difficult than it might first appear? Or what actions, specifically, are required to ensure the successful adoption of autonomous technologies?

The future is already here. Algorithms are replacing complex manual operations. The mining sector, but one example, is pioneering autonomous drill, haul and train systems, integrated remote operation centres, and data lakes.

Australia is embracing automation and currently sits in the middle of a field of 25 countries according to Automation Readiness Index, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.  Rail is adding its weight to this movement, intent on remaining relevant in a world gone digital.

The United Kingdom is betting its future on digital. And in Australia, operators are investing heavily in new technical solutions to improve network capacity and safety.

And in 15 years-time, what then? Well, the pioneering spirit behind “fish and chips” will have manifested in a new form, in keeping with its place in our hearts.


Interested in starting a conversation about Rail? Email info@theterraceinitiative.com

Curious about adoption of autonomous technologies? Visit Transformation Sciences