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Hitachi Rail driverless metro systems operate around the world - providing efficient, low-emission transport, they make a big difference in highly populated areas. Our engineers are heavily involved in the development of these systems at every stage of production. Such projects can be highly complex and time consuming to deliver, and therefore require a skilled approach from everyone involved.

Hear more from Georgios Pournaras, an engineer who has enjoyed a varied and progressive career within Hitachi Rail. Starting with a metro system in his hometown, then branching out to Greece and Canada, Georgious has become an expert in the field. He describes the skills that he considers most essential to success in his role, which may be unexpected…

How did your career begin at Hitachi Rail and how has it progressed?

After completing university in December 2016, I started my career as a Researcher at Hitachi Rail. My first role in the company was as an Associate Operation & Maintenance Engineer, based in Copenhagen. At the time, the Metro Line 3 for the Copenhagen Metro System (Cityringen) was in the commissioning phase.

In addition to my Copenhagen project involvement, I worked on an international assignment in Naples with the Operation & Maintenance (O&M) team and worked on our driverless metros in Thessaloniki, Greece. Upon completion of my assignment, I returned to Copenhagen as an O&M Engineer.

Following Hitachi Rail’s success with the Ontario bid in Canada, I was promoted to Senior O&M Technical Manager - though once my responsibilities on O&M projects in Copenhagen became more demanding, I became the O&M Project Manager, to solely work on the Cityringen. This project focused on the operation of 19 stations on Line 3, the northern branch of Line 4, as well as the O&M design for the southern part of Line 4, going into revenue service in summer 2024.

If I had to summarise my professional experiences so far, I would pick the words: interesting, challenging and productive! My personal skillset development and involvement in projects keep my motivation levels high - these are the main reasons why I am proud to be a member of the Hitachi Rail family.

For aspiring engineers, can you describe some of the skills that are essential for your role?

In my opinion, the principal attributes to succeed in my role include the ability to be organised and to be a thorough planner.

It may sound simple, but people underestimate the value of a detailed-oriented, structured and organised way of working! An engineer’s job is dynamic; changing priorities constantly arise – so being organised is key to keep stress levels low and to maintain the workload. I have learned so much about the importance of planning over the years, it has been part of my adaptation to the nature of this work.

Engineering jobs require strong organisational skills generally, customers are looking to talk to someone who is in control of their work. Luckily, we have software tools that help with applying those skills and I am always looking out for new tools and ways of working to try.

Is there a particular piece of railway technology that inspires you?

Being an Operation & Maintenance-oriented person, I am continuously impressed by the flexibility that Hitachi Rail’s Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) system for driverless metros gives to the operator. Metro systems are particularly interesting – they support a transport network that is often operational 24/7, and the needs of the city change each day.

The flexibility of our solution provides options to adjust operations – adjusting headways, skipping stations, blocking doors, assigning new routes for example – which can be done remotely. This is simply amazing and extremely passenger friendly to provide a seamless user journey.

What is the most interesting project you’ve been involved with?

For me, the most interesting project I’ve worked on is the Copenhagen Cityringen - I have seen the project from its commissioning phase through to its trial run, its opening day, the first months of operation, and now to its current high-performing operation.

At the end of the day, I am a citizen of Copenhagen - so the feeling of knowing the project inside out and all the team members involved, is irreplaceable. We work together to transport millions of people safely every month. To me, it doesn’t get more interesting than being part of the decisions and discussions on this project.

How do your team work together to get results?

Communication is the key dynamic within my team. We are a set of highly experienced individuals with strong opinions, but the team has a common goal. By spending time together, we have learned how to communicate with each other, our limits, time-schedules, and our unofficial boundaries.

The work can be stressful and demanding – it’s a challenging job - but time in the office is fun because we are a small family. We have built trust between us, and people that can communicate easily and trust one another, ultimately, deliver productive results.

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


Georgios Pournaras

O&M Project Manager Location: Denmark