From the perspective of reaching climate goals, rail transport is the most essential one of all transport modes available. “Between urban areas, comprehensive rail connections are the backbone of a functional commuting area. The level of service and, above all, the smooth running of traffic decide how well the system attracts users. In addition, we must enable the construction of residential infrastructure that is better connected to public transport than before. Climate targets accelerate this change in the transport sector,” says Kari Wihlman, Director General of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
As digital services and automation develop further, the condition and capacity of the rail network become emphasised. There is room for different kinds of innovations. “The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency is responsible for the daily condition and operability of the rail lines. In the next few years, the technical development of the railways will focus on the development of data transfer systems, automation and data models. On railways, data is accumulated through such systems as the track network, measuring cars, rolling stock and traffic control, so close co-operation between operators is important,” Wihlman continues.
Diversification and digitalisation of rail traffic visible in the major event
The Rata2020 days are held for the 11th time this year. “This is the largest event in the sector with great significance from the point of view of sharing competence. In the railway system, co-operation between the various operators becomes emphasised. The participants include public administration actors, consultants and rail operators, discussing the latest innovations, research results and changes in the operating environment,” says Markku Nummelin, Railway Traffic Director at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
One of this year's themes is diversification on the tracks. “In Finland, we are currently building more tramways than ever before. The new express tramways and the way they are connected to land use are a target of wide interest, and they are also a visible topic in the speeches to be held at the event,” Nummelin says.
Another highly visible theme is digitalisation. “One of the most important ongoing development projects is the Digirata survey. The plan is to transfer the Finnish railway system to a digital solution that will increase the capacity and usability of the railways. Within 10–20 years’ time, the train control system will be very different over the entire railway network than it is now. Within this time, it will also be integrated into European railway systems. This project will be promoted with the help of the Digirata project, which will also be visibly displayed at the Rata2020 event.”
Interview requests to Director General Kari Wihlman: Director Anna Jokela tel. + 358 400 439 955
Markku Nummelin, Railway Traffic Director, tel. +358 29 534 3971
Information on the event: https://vayla.fi/web/rata2020