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From a world-first autonomous rail network for a resource giant, to a new digital signalling system for the city set to host the 2032 Olympics, Renita George’s career with Hitachi Rail has kept her moving in the right direction!

Hear more from Renita as she provides an insight into the fascinating world of leading-edge rail signalling systems and the skillset that has enabled her to work on truly transformative rail projects…

The Future is Digital

I am writing this blog today after successfully completing dynamic (also known as “live”) tests, involving a European Train Control System (ETCS) fitted train on a rail line in Brisbane.

A crucial step in the systems integration cycle, these tests marked another huge milestone for our project to install Hitachi Rail’s world-class signalling system on the future Olympic host city’s rail network.

As a Signalling Commissioning Engineer, this is certainly not the first time I have been involved in tests like this. But live tests always get the adrenalin pumping!

It is amazing to witness everything flowing smoothly and safely – with the ETCS software in the control centre and equipment installed onboard the train and trackside all ‘talking to each other’ the way they should. And although I know it intimately, I cannot help but marvel at the genius behind this digital signalling system that allows more trains to run more often, with enhanced levels of safety and reliability on rail networks around the world.

Digital connectivity is shaping our world and now more than ever, it has truly clicked that my work in digital rail signalling systems makes a tangible difference.

As temperatures increase and we experience changing weather patterns, rising populations, increasing urbanisation and traffic congestion, low emission, mass transport solutions are essential to our quality of life and a sustainable future.

"The widespread adoption of advanced digital signalling system solutions and other innovations that increase the efficiency of rail networks has the power to position rail as the transport of choice because it makes people’s lives easier."

Enhancing the frequency, efficiency and reliability of train movement and scheduling translates into happy commuters who can plan their travel, confident they can get from A to B on time, stress free and with less impact on the planet!

The Vital Role of Systems Testing

The seamless operation of a rail network at the click of a command does not just happen. Thousands of hours of work go into the system design, integration and testing of a system like the ETCS prior to its commissioning.

I often think about it from a commuter’s perspective – how simple it must look. The train arrives at the station, passengers get on and off, and then it moves on to the next station, hurtling along the track, through level crossings and tunnels.

The ETCS is a complex system, with many subsystems which are all complex in themselves. Our team is responsible for systems integration and testing the system’s performance under static and dynamic conditions, across every operational scenario imaginable.

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"A rigorous testing regime is critical to ensuring each element of the ETCS system and the system (as a whole) is functioning in accordance with its design and meets the customer’s requirements. Everything that can be tested must be tested and proven to be operating at the highest standards of reliability and safety."

The unity and team spirit of the Testing & Commissioning team is phenomenal, and this really comes to the fore during the dynamic testing phase. With members of the team stationed in the Rail Management Centre, trackside and onboard the train, it requires a next level commitment to working together and supporting each other to ensure the safe and successful completion of our comprehensive series of tests.

Keeping my Career on Track

I have been working with Hitachi Rail for 15 years and during that time, I have worked on projects for passenger networks and the heavy haul freight rail sector. This included working on AutoHaul™ – the world’s first automated, heavy-haul long distance rail network pioneered by Hitachi Rail and Rio Tinto.

One of the most satisfying things about being a Signalling Commissioning Engineer is that there are multiple facets of rail signalling systems, and you can build your skills across the different areas, across different projects.

With Hitachi Rail, I have been able to do this while balancing my professional development and career goals with family life.

I am the mother of two bright and inquisitive children who are my world, but when my youngest daughter started school, I felt it was time for a step change in terms of my career.

This led me to find my new niche in Testing & Commissioning and here I am today, three years later, experiencing the thrill of dynamic testing of the ETCS we are building for Brisbane and feeling motivated for the next phase.

To find out more about careers at Hitachi Rail, please click here to visit our careers pages.


Renita George

Senior Signalling Commissioning Engineer Location: Brisbane, Australia