The digital railway debate must widen its horizons ISSUE NUMBER: TT139
Over the past few years the idea of a digital railway has become voguish in the upper echelons of the British rail industry. Senior managers at Network Rail, among others, have spent a lot of time enthusing about a world in which trains, tracks, signals and stations are transformed in a better digital future.
There have been several critiques of this development. The least persuasive is that it is a distraction, and that Mark Carne and others should focus instead on running the railway of today. This is rather like urging the senior management of Kodak a few years back to focus on film because digital cameras wouldn't add up to much.
A more interesting criticism is the opposite: that railway executives and policymakers should just get on with it. The best criticism of all is that we are not thinking big enough: that proponents of a digital railway are not paying sufficient heed to what is happening across the transport sector, and the dramatic impact that developments elsewhere might have on rail.
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