The Hitachi Rail team in Australia had a great time at AusRAIL 2022.
Group CEO, Andrew Barr delivered a plenary keynote outlining our role in using Artificial intelligence and digital signalling to automate and optimise rail services from Western Australia to Queensland.
Read the full speech below.
It's great to be back at AusRail, and back in Australia.
The last time I came was before the pandemic - Australia and the world have changed a lot since then.
What hasn't changed is my love for Australia - the food, culture, and hospitality.
But most of all, it's the innovative, pioneering spirit of Australia's transport industry that I enjoy talking about when I'm here.
My experience has been that Australia punches above its weight when it comes to pioneering new technology in this sector. Hitachi Rail is proud to be part of it - that's what I'll focus my speech on today.
This room knows that transport infrastructure is vital to healthy societies.
Whether it's providing more seamless, sustainable journeys for passengers or optimising the vast freight networks that keep our industries moving and great cities connected, the transport sector matters.
Consistent investment in transport is the best way to boost economic growth and also to achieve decarbonisation goals.
But it takes work. The cost of living and post-COVID budgetary challenges put huge pressure on public and private funding for big projects.
Despite that, the Australian State and Federal governments have shown great vision to continue to invest in new transport systems.
So I want to commend State and Federal governments for their ongoing commitment.
Although it might be some time before a Hitachi-built Shinkansen bullet train connects Brisbane to Canberra, the renewed focus on greener modes of transport is welcome and needed.
At Hitachi, we are proud of our Japanese heritage, but we're the most multicultural transport company.
We operate in over 38 countries, and here in Australia, we employ more than 550 people in both freight and passenger markets:
Our heritage here goes back to the early 1970s when Melbourne's silver sets were built with technology from our factory in Kasado, Japan.
More recently, in 2011, we delivered the traction propulsion systems for the Waratah fleet of double-decker trains in New South Wales.
We continue working with Roy Hill to engineer efficiencies in its heavy haul mining operations, building on the pioneering satellite vehicle positioning tech we delivered in 2016.
This year, we delivered the complete signalling and telecommunications system for the Forrestfield-Airport Link, connecting the eastern suburbs to Perth's airport.
In New South Wales, we are working with Transport for New South Wales and Sydney Trains to integrate our high-tech macro-interlocking platform - an ETCS Level 2 compatible system - into Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains.
As part of our shared decarbonisation strategy, we are helping Rio Tinto to integrate new battery technology in some of their locomotives, replacing ageing diesel engines, while currently trialing a systems-driven fuel-saving strategy. This builds on our experience delivering battery-augmented rolling stock in Europe.
We're now working in partnership with Rio Tinto on a ground-breaking study into AI-driven hazard detection and collision avoidance.
I mentioned decarbonisation a few times now, so let me focus on it.
At the global level, transport is now one of the top sources of greenhouse emissions., driven by cars and planes. Yet electric trains can help offset much of these emissions.
For decades we have known that carbon is an important topic to address and that we have many of the technologies we need to address it.
Technology isn’t enough. Strong policy action and investment are also needed.
That’s why I was especially pleased to see the renewed political attention on decarbonisation in Australia.
The Australian Government’s commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 43% by 2030 and net zero by 2050 sends a powerful signal.
It gives international businesses - like Hitachi Rail - the confidence that there will be real and sustained interest in our decarbonising technology.
Our Japanese parent has also committed the Hitachi Group to achieve net zero by 2050 across its operations and supply chain.
Adopting a long-term view is hugely important for us and the rail sector.
I believe the focus needs to be on our cities.
Cities are a major source of the challenges we face - but they also hold the means to address them. By 2050 cities will:
Be where 70% of the world’s population lives.
Produce 80% of the world’s GDP.
Be responsible for 70% of global CO2e emissions.
Public transportation - not just rail - can play a massive role in addressing these challenges.
But we have to reduce the use of our cars.
As a father of two young girls, living in a rural area, and responsible for carrying a lot of their stuff - the thought of being without a car is terrifying. But it is increasingly necessary. That’s why I see it as OUR shared responsibility to create more credible alternatives to cars.
Public transport has to be the better option. Cheaper, faster, and more convenient than fossil-fuelled alternatives. When we get it right, people switch, emissions fall, and quality of life improves.
As Group CEO of Hitachi Rail, I see how many cities worldwide are making the transition.
After nearly two decades in Hitachi, I have seen first-hand how autonomous, driverless metro systems like the ones we build and operate change how cities work. They take cars off the roads, improve public health, enhance the quality of life and act as a driver for economic growth.
We deliver these autonomous, driverless projects worldwide: From Copenhagen to Taipei, Toronto to the Philippines, and Milan to Brisbane.
We just heard about the incredible work the Cross River Rail and QR are doing here in Brisbane. I am proud that Hitachi Rail can be part of their transition to a digital signalling system.
ETCS level 2 digital signalling technology means more trains more often and greater capacity to move passengers at peak times while maintaining safety along the way.
That’s important for Brisbane’s commuters today, but it will be even more important when the world comes to Brisbane for the Olympic Games in 2032.
Rail is the backbone of decarbonised public transport. But passengers need better-connected journeys from start to finish.
That's why this year we launched our new Smart Mobility business.
Our first launch city in Genoa, Italy, is pioneering the way. And we just announced our second city, Trento, in Italy last week.
Our 360Pass mobile app makes travelling more convenient for the passenger and more cost-effective, which can drive modal shift by connecting the entire journey better.
Here's how it works; Passengers download our 360Pass smartphone app and activate Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth on their phone communicates with over 7,000 generations of 5 Bluetooth transponders fitted across the city's transport network.
And they can walk on any mode of public transport. Bus, train, metro, e-moped, e-car, and even access parking. The sensors log which services were used and when.
Passengers don't even need to take their phones out of their pockets. They use the network, and overnight the fare calculator algorithm charges them the best possible price for their journey, however many modes of transport they use.
But the real revolution is for the operator and the city. Because all this data from passengers and vehicles is fed into a single platform called 360Motion, this live map of the city is a real-time digital twin of the public transport network.
The map gives data about how all modes of transport and people flow through the network and can help operators plan, predict and react to transport bottlenecks in real-time.
It also gives emissions data with incredible granularity. It can help tackle congestion hotspots and help the city to avoid fines for breaching local NOx emissions limits.
We aren’t finished there. The team are busy working on adding in the ability for operators to manage fleets of electric buses - we have over 200 now operating with FirstBus in Glasgow, and we even help them adapt their car parks into e-charging stations as part of the overall network.
By integrating all these systems - that move people, vehicles, data, electrons, and money across public transport systems, we are creating unprecedented opportunities to make public transport the most credible alternative to the traditional car.
Digital Innovation isn’t just connecting passengers in our cities.
It is also helping how goods are transported through freight networks.
I was in Perth earlier this week and saw our state-of-the-Art Laboratory, where we pioneered the system to enable AutoHaul™: the world’s first fully automated heavy-haul rail system.
We are very proud that AutoHaul was the first ETCS L2 technology to be put into revenue service in Australia and the first Automatic Train Operation over ETCS.
I’m delighted to see governments across Australia adopting the ETCS L2 technology. This year we have extended the network by 260 kilometres to include a new mine. The team took safety and efficiency to new levels through our continued partnership and collaborative innovation.
It’s incredible that since 2018 more than 35 million km of freight journeys have been completed without a driver on board.
So we’re bringing a lot of global innovation into Australia. But we can’t do it alone and need the best Australian expertise to deliver.
As you heard, we’re busy on many projects here, and there’s one more message I’d like to leave you with today:
If you think you’re up to the challenge, visit our careers page to find out more about Hitachi Rail careers.