Fazil Farooque Ahmed
From: Railway Young Professionals Best Paper Competition 2013, 18th November 2013, London
18 November 2013 Transport channel
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The IET Railway Network invited young railway professionals from across the industry to hone their writing and presentation skills by participating in the 2013 Best Paper competition. This year's theme is 'What is the value of innovation?'.
Given the critical nature of railway operations, it is not surprising that railways are naturally risk averse in both the areas of safety and project timescales. There have been examples in the past where an older technology has been selected over a better, new equivalent, not because of any concerns with the actual safety of the item, rather because of the perceived risk of delays to the project timescale in achieving safety acceptance by the relevant safety authority. However, as we impose constraints on the system to protect against failure to gain acceptance, we also reduce the potential to improve the capability and performance of the railway.
Cross Acceptance has been a desire of the European Rail Industry for many years, yet it still appears to be an 'impossible dream' to achieve cross acceptance without going through a major re-engineering of existing safety arguments, even when trying to cross accept between different safety authorities in the same country!
How do we decide if novelty should win over tried and tested solutions? What values do we assign to the risks and the benefits? When, if ever, should we rip up the standards and start again? What can be done to reduce the risk of failing to gain safety acceptance, and how can we make cross-acceptance, or acceptance in general, function more efficiently?
This competition, open to young (i.e. unchartered) railway professionals of any discipline or affiliation, culminates in a presentation evening where each finalist will have the opportunity to give a professional conference-style presentation. Judges will then determine the winner, based on the following criteria:
Relevance to the rail industry
Relevance to the theme
The technical standard of the paper
How effectively the paper states its aims and objectives
Presentation of the paper (including structure, clarity and quality of English)
Whilst the judges are deliberating, there will be a keynote address.