Change management is the key to the future of rail transport

10/1/18, 12:00 PM

Rail transport is undergoing big changes in both Finland and the EU as a whole. There is no going back to the way things were before, not even to maintain the status quo. Commuter train transports have been opened up to competition for a while now, and new tram lines are being introduced to Tampere and Helsinki. Legislation is changing, the digital revolution is increasing in scope. The question on everyone’s mind at Trafi's first rail transport stakeholder event 26th of September at Finlandia Hall: how can we ensure the safety and smoothness of rail transports amidst these changes?

The EU’s goal is to make rail transports as competitive as possible and allow rail operators to operate within the entire EU market. For consumers, this means an increase in smooth and uninterrupted travel and experiences. At the event, EU Commission Director Elisabeth Werner emphasised the importance of opening the market up to competition for the development of rail transports and provided some examples on the experiences received so far.

At the seminar, Director Laura Eiro from the Ministry of Transport and Communications talked about the changes to rail passenger transports in Finland.

“Reaching our environmental goals will require an increase in the use of rail transports. The objective for opening rail transports up to competition is to achieve a marked increase in the services on offer and the attractiveness of rail transports as a whole We also need infrastructure investments to reach this goal,” noted Eiro.

During the seminar, Project Manager Karen Davies from the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) and her colleague Simon D’Albertanson provided a pan-European perspective on the issue During their speech, the ERA representatives focused on the national-level effects of the EU’s fourth railway package and on the supervision of the functionality and safety of rail transports – which is more effective: a performance-based supervision process that is based on activities and risks, or a supervision system that is based on compliance, rules and regulations?

An emphasis on ensuring safety

"Competition and tendering are ways to achieve increasingly more versatile services and make more efficient use of our rail infrastructure, says Trafi's Director General of Rail Transport Sector Yrjö Mäkelä when he refers to the goals of both the EU and the Ministry of Transport and Communications for arranging rail transports.

Mäkelä emphasises that ensuring safety is of the utmost importance no matter the way that the services are implemented. Identifying and preparing for the risks in one's own activities is the way to manage any changes that may come about.

“The operators themselves have the best information and expertise on the field, as that's the place where safety is built every day. The main thing in a multi-operator field is to create common operating models between different organisations, as smooth and safe transport activities benefit us all,” Mäkelä notes.

In addition, the seminar included a panel between rail operators on how the safety of rail transports could be improved in practice.

Trafi's Raide 2018 seminar at Finlandia Hall, which was held on 26 September 2018, featured around a hundred participants. The event was also present on social media with its official hashtag #trafiraide2018.

Director General of Rail Transport Sector Yrjö Mäkelä, tel. +358 29 5346 825, yrjo.makela (at)