Guest Blog: Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain


Guest Blog: Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain

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Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain is the Innovation Manager at East West Rail and self-described ‘Queen of the Railways’. She will be writing a regular guest blog for Routes into Rail about the interesting and innovative projects happening in rail.

I want to acknowledge that the rail industry has historically been cautious about embracing innovation and change. This is because its primary concern has always been safety; an unwavering commitment to ensuring that every person – whether workers or passengers – returns home safely. There is no reason to change practices that have kept people safe and not created any issues.

Every potential change, every material, every piece of technology has been scrutinised to ensure our stringent safety standards are maintained. An innovation that has been researched and proven to improve the system without detracting from safety has a clear delivery pathway. The industry finds the balance between innovation and safety.

Innovation is present in many areas of rail. An obvious example is decarbonisation and sustainability. Rail organisations are actively exploring innovative solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and enhance sustainability. This includes advancements in how trains are powered – like battery technology and hydrogen-powered trains – and sustainable construction practices. Biodiversity is important too – railways are green corridors that provide habitats for plants and animals.

Innovations in ticketing are aiming to streamline the passenger experience. A big challenge in the transport sector is different forms of ticketing across rail, bus and other transport. Efforts are underway to develop unified ticketing systems that allow seamless travel across various transport networks.

One of the most important areas for innovation is improving accessibility. Rail is a heritage industry with some very old infrastructure – making that accessible can be challenging. But we must have a rail system that can be used by everyone. There are 14 million disabled people in the UK and that number is only going to grow. We have a responsibility to make sure they can access the railway confidently and safely.

The good thing about working in rail is that you can innovate in most roles. Engineers innovate all the time, coming up with new processes and better ways of doing things – as do the people working in maintenance at the depots, who are using those processes day to day.

Rail is an industry that is open to innovation from all different levels, so you don’t have to be an innovation manager to drive change. If we only had innovation managers, we would get very little done because we have to understand from the wider rail community where the challenges sit. Anyone with a really good idea for making a process better, cheaper or more sustainable will be listened to.

Innovation is driving positive change in many areas of the rail industry. While safety remains paramount, there is a growing recognition of the need to embrace innovation to address challenges and enhance the rail experience for passengers and workers. The future of rail promises to be characterised by continuous improvement and transformation.

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