The rail review gathers pace

Keith Williams, together with his expert challenge panel and the team at the Department for Transport continue to beaver away to develop an innovative, practical solution to the more intractable issues of the rail industry. The industry has some really positive achievements under its belt: growing passenger numbers, upgrading infrastructure and rolling stock, offering a more inclusive service…the list goes on. And yet – there are still significant problems and we are seeking creative, cost-effective and practical solutions. The call for evidence is still open, so if you haven’t yet contributed your two penn’orth, please do! Keith will be setting out his initial thoughts in his George Bradshaw address at the end of February, but the work will go on. So have your say and help us make a lasting difference.

Rethinking our rail system

I’m really looking forward to working with Keith Williams and the other members of the expert challenge panel on the rail review, and colleagues at DfT, to rethink our railways so that they really work for passengers.  It’s such an important issue – unless we can move around freely and easily, we can’t work, enjoy time with distant friends and relatives, travel to new parts of the country and expand our horizons…

Today you can join in – there is a call for evidence on the DfT website.  Please do!  We need to hear from those who use the railway, those who would like to but don’t or can’t, and those who think it’s just not for them.  Most of us would agree something fairly radical is required…so let’s get those ideas in!  But it’s not just the innovative ideas that I want to hear.  If there’s something in particular that causes you problems, whether or not you can suggest how to solve it, please let us know.

Thanks in advance for your contribution.

Discoveries in the USA

Boston refuge areaI recently spent a very interesting 3 weeks on holiday in the USA – although I couldn’t resist doing a little work while I was there.  Whilst visiting the cities of New York, Washington and Boston, I met with the transport professionals responsible for accessibility.  They were very welcoming and I shared ideas from London, and picked their brains about US provision.  Using the public transport systems to get around was fairly straightforward – the subways in particular worked well for us and we found at least one ‘little gem’ in each city.  In New York, overhead signs showed the best place to board for level access; in Washington, platform edge lights flashed when a train was approaching, giving plenty of warning to board; and in Boston we found refuge areas for wheelchair users in the subway (pictured).  My companion and I sampled most forms of transport – including Amtrak, which made our National Rail services look quite good!

New Crossrail Train Carriages Unveiled

On the 3 February I had a stimulating trip to Bombardier in Derby to see the Elizabeth line trains – Crossrail as I knew it – being built.

I liked the accessibility features which I thought worked well. This includes subtle colour contrast (i.e. not bright yellow!), step free access from platform to train, wide doorways and four dedicated wheelchair spaces on each train. You can still travel in the vestibule, though, so there’s plenty of choice.  In addition, all platforms along the Elizabeth line will be fully accessible with step-free access/ramps for boarding.

The new line will truly be a ‘step-change’ in transport accessibility in London. I’m looking forward to travelling on it when the line opens fully in December 2019.

 

Transport for London (TfL) Board Appointment

 

I am delighted to have been appointed as a member of the new Mayor’s Board of Transport for London (TfL). It is a real honour.

Working alongside the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, I am looking forward to the challenge of delivering the best possible transport system for London for all users.

My new colleagues on the Board have an impressive range of skills and experience and I welcome the opportunity of working alongside them.

 

 

A Panel Discussion: Social Value of Transport

CT Matters

Last Wednesday I was delighted to be invited onto the panel as part of the ’Why Community Transport Matters’ launch event hosted by ECT Charity in partnership with Deloitte, Transport for London and the London Community Transport Strategic Forum.

The event held at City Hall in London also saw the launch of the Community Transport Matters report. This report is an amalgamation of two ground-breaking studies led to help community transport organisations around the UK better demonstrate their social value.

The panel discussion, which was expertly chaired by Leon Daniels, MD of Surface Transport TfL, delved into the Social Value of Transport. Alongside fellow panel members Neha Unadkat, Deputy MD of the Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group, and Bill Freeman, CEO of the Community Transport Association, I enjoyed the lively panel discussion with some interesting additions from the audience.

The economic value of community transport is significant and the report is an important step in our progress towards understanding better how inclusive transport delivers economic benefit.

 

 

Transformational Journey Reflections

I was delighted to share my experiences of studying for the Cranfield DBA at a recent Transformational Journey Webinar for prospective students.

 

Putting together the presentation was a useful exercise in reminding me how the experience enriched my life. It certainly wasn’t easy: I sometimes found it tricky championing an unpopular topic in a sector that can be conservative around diversity issues. Throw the four-year part-time schedule into the mix and it was even more of a challenge!  In hindsight, however, I can appreciate how it all helped me to develop my potential professionally and personally.

 

The discipline and process required to complete on schedule made me a more critical thinker, better able to challenge the status quo and, importantly in my current role as a NED, deal successfully with ambiguity and change within organisations.

 

It was also a pleasure to catch up with my supervisor Dr John Towriss and reflect on the impact my research made.