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Making the cities of the future more liveable

Federico Nardi

Federico Nardi, Hitachi Rail’s Senior Director of Technology Management, Asia Pacific, has been with the company for 21 years and they’ve all been fascinating.

Italian-born Federico is passionate about digital rail signalling systems and their extraordinary potential to make the world a better place.

What do you enjoy most about working for Hitachi Rail?

When I started with Hitachi as a signalling engineer over two decades ago, I understood almost nothing about rail. But then my passion for the industry grew. I have been lucky to see the company expand, technology change and the systems become more and more advanced. It’s been extraordinary.

During my first 10 years with the company I was based in Italy and focused on Italian railway projects. I upskilled in many new technologies over that time. During the next 10 years, I worked on projects throughout the Asia Pacific. I met my wife, who is Iranian, in Australia and moved here full-time in 2017.

There are lots of opportunity here and, for us, it’s a great place to raise a family.

Hitachi Rail

What is exciting about your work at the moment?

Hitachi’s mission is to contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products.

I recently read a paper that stated while 50% of people live in urban areas now, that will grow to 72% by 2050. Rapid urbanisation is a megatrend, which effects the economy and therefore our business. It also powerfully influences how people live.

So, to have the possibility of a transportation system that can accommodate this quickly growing population is an exciting opportunity to drive social innovation and contribute to a better future.

To have an efficient end-to-end public transportation system, that is integrated with rail, bus and other transport services, is one of the major challenges facing transport systems around the world.

If I think about the most satisfying project I’ve worked on, it has to be the European Train Control System (ETCS) technology we’re delivering in Brisbane. It’s an exciting digital transformation that will make rail travel more convenient and increase ridership as a result. Less cars on the road means a reduced carbon footprint. It is extremely satisfying to bring this innovation to Australian railways as sustainability is one of our key pillars.

How does the ETCS work?

ETCS is a digital railway signalling system that relays continuous information between the central Rail Management Centre and trains via a radio system; and between trackside equipment and the Rail Management Centre through a fixed transmission network. Additionally some data is transferred to the train via beacons (known as balises) fixed to the tracks.

This information reports the position, direction and speed of each train and enables the system to calculate safe, maximum running speeds. Knowing the exact position of each train along the network means they can be scheduled to travel closer to each other while maintaining the highest standards of safety.

Although ETCS is already operating in cities around the world, it is the first time it is being introduced to Brisbane.

It provides operators with the opportunity to increase their understanding of passenger traffic flow and to undertake predictive maintenance – enabling increased energy efficiency as an outcome of better planning.

What is your hope for the future?

Imagine a transport system that was so smart you could travel door-to-door across a city using a single mobile phone app. My vision is to create partnerships with clients that drive social innovation and create integrated and multi-modal transport systems across rail, buses, ferries and air travel. Our current ETCS project in Queensland is a great opportunity to contribute to making the planet a better place. That’s both exciting and rewarding.