Events News

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EVENTS: Regulars at Middle East Rail felt that numbers were down on previous years, perhaps reflecting the number of rail projects in the region that appear to be on pause. Despite this there was an august roster of keynote speakers. H.E. Dr Abdulla Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development, & Chairman, Federal Transport Authority - Land & Maritime UAE, H.E. Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General, Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council talked of the need for a more active private sector investment in projects, perhaps reflecting the need for a top-up on direct government finance with oil prices remaining relatively low. H.E. Dr Rumaih Al Rumaih, President, Public Transport Authority, & President, Saudi Railways Organisation added that urban transport projects in Makkah, Damman, Jeddah and Medina are moving towards PPP structures.

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Meanwhile, as if to prepare for a post-Brexit Britain, Paul Maynard MP, Rail Minister, Department for Transport UK, maximised on the UK’s first mover advantage in railways to push nearly 200 years of expertise on this large export market. Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail was similarly on-message, mentioning several times how his Network Rail Consulting division, already ensconced in Saudi Arabia’s North-South Railway, could do much more. Hendy’s talk was timely as NRC (with Serco and Freightliner) had helped Saudi Arabian Railways launched the first commercial passenger service from Riyadh to Al Qassim. The route also includes British station design that incorporates function and form; stations that are modern and reflect Saudi culture and heritage. 

His talk focused on lessons learnt from different rail industry structures (and the UK has seen them all) and how they might be applied in the region. He also gave an insight into Network Rail’s latest direction, devolving power to geographical routes which will be separately regulated. He also talked about the need for private sector capital, and how they were looking to ‘open up the network’ to private project organisations.

Perhaps the star of Middle East Rail 2017 was a transport mode that can’t be described as ‘rail’, Hyperloop One. Boasting a 12 minute journey time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi there was much interest from many in the rail industry wondering if this disruptive technology might be about to replace them. In next week’s airrail NEWS, Leanne Wheeler, special correspondent and customer experience specialist will provide a detailed update on Hyperloop One and discuss some of their plans to revolutionise mobility and ‘redefine regions’.

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EVENT: Global AirRail Alliance and Norton Rose Fulbright will co-host the first Airport Access Ideas Forum in London on Wednesday 7th of June 2017.

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The interactive ideas forum will focus on challenges and opportunities related to the provision of seamless access to national and international airports around the world, improving customer experience and reducing carbon emissions.

Participants will look at how new technology and the sharing economy is changing road access and car parking businesses at airports, as well as the opportunities public transport can deliver for airport operators in terms of non-aeronautical revenue, improved customer experience and business development.

Duncan Field, partner, Norton Rose Fulbright, commented:“The progressive growth in air passenger numbers has created challenges for operators globally in ensuring easy access to their airports, and has meant that future proofing airport developments has become increasingly important. We see this already in the UK with road and rail improvements playing a central role in current and proposed airport expansion projects but new technology, ranging from drones that can transport passengers and their luggage, through to the increasing use of software applications and big data, have the potential to transform how passengers access airports and to create new commercial opportunities.”

“Airport Access Ideas Forum is an experience bringing the highest level professionals from the aviation and ground transport industries. The event format takes an interactive shape to include all participants for more engaging discussions and product demonstrations,” Milda Manomaityte, Director of the Global AirRail Alliance said.

The hosts are inviting established transport operators, start-ups and technology companies that are working on passenger mobility innovations to join the forum and submit a proposal for a short presentation in four dedicated areas – Rail, Bus/Coach, Car (including private vehicle, parking, taxi, car sharing and car hailing services), and Future Transport.

Presentations should focus on these key topics:

  • autonomous vehicles,
  • car parking,
  • revenue and funding for surface access projects,
  • wayfinding and passenger information,
  • public and private transport integration,
  • airport employee access,
  • big data,
  • new transport technologies 
  • pedestrian and cycling,
  • transit oriented development.

Submissions should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">


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EVENTS: The UITP Global Public Transport Summit is coming to Montreal on 15-17 May 2017, bringing the discussions of urbanisation, digitalisation, advances in green energy and the emergence of new mobility players.

The changing mobility world is seeing the emergence of various innovative transport services that offer the shared use of vehicles and which are becoming an increasingly common sight on today’s city streets. Together, with the rise of autonomous driving technology, these services have the potential to either dramatically reduce private car dependency and congestion, or encourage it.

One of the key topics that will be covered during the Global Public Transport Summit is how autonomous vehicle technology and new transport services have the potential to completely redefine how authorities plan and improve public transport, in both urban and intra-urban areas. The Summit will highlight how public transport is taking the lead in the deployment of autonomous mobility services and look in-depth at their exciting potential.

The arrival of driverless vehicles will significantly impact the way people travel to and from airports and bring new challenges for rail operators to increase their appeal for passengers and airport employees.

During the Summit a diverse range of industry leaders, including vehicle manufacturers and transport operators, will show how they are embracing these technologies and share cutting edge industry techniques.

The Summit will also focus on trends in digitalisation and the constant innovation that are driving the need for new skills in the entire mobility sector. In order to continue serving the needs of customers, as well as stay competitive, public transport operators and manufacturers must adapt to – and even take part in developing – these new technologies, whilst dealing with challenges in cybersecurity.

All of these discussions will take place in Montréal against the backdrop of unprecedented urbanisation: according to the 2014 UN World Urbanisation Prospects Report, around 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities by the year 2050. Though many socio-economic factors are driving this evolution, it is clear that cities must work harder to include people from all levels of society, to enable cities to take on a more prominent role in tomorrow’s world.

Presented during the closing ceremony at the Summit, the UITP Awards will recognise ambitious and innovative mobility projects contributing to UITP’s overarching goal of doubling the modal share of public transport worldwide by 2025. The Awards highlight successful projects that have been implemented around the world from 2015-2017 that place public transport at the heart of the urban and local mobility system and that are not only ambitious and innovative but also have the ability to be easily transferable to other cities and regions across the globe.

Visitors to Montréal will also have the opportunity to discover first-hand the results of the world’s first ever Global Transport Hackathon. Organised by Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT) with the support of UITP and its members, more than 20 cities across the globe are organising local hackathons to explore new technologies in sustainability, whilst encouraging young computer programmers to get positively involved with the sustainable mobility sector. The winners from each event will gather at the UITP Summit for a final hackathon as part of a huge worldwide effort to create ground-breaking transport solutions.

UITP Global Public Transport Summit, Montréal, 15-17 May 2017. Find out more:


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The Global AirRail Awards 2016 ceremony took place in Helsinki, celebrating the incredible achievements of Airports, Rail Operators, Airlines, Planners and Suppliers – who work together to create an amazing experience for travellers around the world.

The Global AirRail Awards is an annual programme, built to recognise the effort, best practices and results of the global air-rail community.

Connecting a railway station with an airport, bringing airport amenities to the city rail terminal, providing joint passenger information or seamless airline/railway journey planning and booking – all this seamless air and rail integration requires close cooperation, transparent communication with stakeholders and an open mind for innovation.

The Global AirRail Awards judges are professionals in the air and rail industries. They evaluated entries from all around the world in number of categories and selected the winners with the highest scores in service to customers, business results, innovation, communication, cooperation and other selected criteria.

(Click here to see more pictures from the conference and awards >>>)

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This year winners were named in ten categories:

North Star Air Rail Link of the Year

The North Star Air Rail Link of the Year award recognises the service with best performance results and highest overall impact to the air-rail market over the past year.

The winner of this category is KLIA Ekspres, who faced with number of humbling challenges last year, managed to achieve the highest ridership, revenue and operating profit in their 13-year history. On top of that the company introduced new train design, VIP guest services and the new TravelPass for improved passenger experience.

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Airport of the Year

This award is dedicated to recognising an airport that actively works with its partners in creating the best air-rail experience for its customers.

The winner of this category is Gatwick Airport - in 2015 the airport served over 40 million passengers for the first time. Rail is vital to Gatwick’s aspiration to become London’s Airport of Choice, bringing 38% of their passengers to the airport. The introduction of Oyster and Contactless payment further contributed to a seamless journey through the airport.

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Customer Service Excellence

The Customer Service Excellence award looks for the best examples of delivering an enjoyable and stress free journey from air to rail.

The winner of this category is Flytoget - an entire organization was involved in developing a revised service concept. Everyone, from service personnel to finance staff, was trained to understand the importance of customer service; creating a truly uniting commitment to giving the best service, every day.

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Social Responsibility

This award recognises the importance of the social responsibility initiatives in the overall company’s strategy.

The winner of this category is Express Rail Link with the FROG Classroom Makeover Project. A total of 28 volunteers from the company signed up for the project to transform one classroom in a selected school, sourcing the funds and undertaking the physical task of transforming the classroom itself.

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AccesRail Integrated Air-Rail Partnership of the Year

This award celebrates successful partnerships between operators, suppliers and organisations, who work together to create seamless air-rail journeys.

The winner of this category is Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn with the opening of the Intermodal Back-office within the Lufthansa Integrated Operations Control Center, equipped with the real time Deutsche Bahn information platform. The partnership has been lifted on a higher cooperation level, ensuring even better customer experience.

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Marketing Campaign of the Year

This award is dedicated to recognising the most creative and successful marketing campaigns in the air-rail sector.

The winner of this category is Airtrain City Link with the No Worries campaign. In June 2015, Airtrain launched the new “no worries” re-brand campaign, putting customers in control and making their travel to the airport stress-free.

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Travelport Project of the Year

This award is given to a project that is contributing, or will contribute greatly to future air-rail services.

The winner of this category is the Regional Transportation District with the Denver Airport A Line project, which was made possible through the PPP, the collaboration of RTD, its partners and the community, creating well-paying jobs and upgrading many transportation facilities.

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Best Product/Innovation of the Year

This award is designed to recognise the best idea, execution and the impact to business improving services on air-rail journeys.

The winner of this category is Abellio Group and Cubic Transportation Systems with the introduction of NextAgent, an innovative hybrid between a standard ticket office and a ticket vending machine with a video-linked call centre, piloted at Stansted Airport as part of a partnership project with Abellio Group.

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Best Distribution Solution

This award looks into innovations and successful implementations of fare collection and distribution systems that create better experience for air-rail passengers.

The winner of this category is Travelport and Hahn Air. Through Travelport’s MyTraining service Hahn Air has made a demo air-rail check-in application so that travel agents can access it at any time for training or simulation purposes.

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Personality of the Year

Personality of the Year award recognises the achievements of an individual who through his or her work has contributed greatly to global air-rail integration. This year’s AirRail Personality of the Year is Mohamed Bhanji, Special Advisor to the Chief Commercial Officer of VIA Rail. Mohamed is a truly visionary innovator and a driving force behind the initiatives to build an interconnected transportation network. He is a pioneer in GDS distribution of railway tickets and the initiator of the development of an internet booking engine, making VIA Rail Canada the first railway in the world to have this capability.

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GLOBAL AIRRAIL 2016: The Hyperloop One system uses a linear motor to accelerate a passenger or cargo vehicle through a tube in a low pressure environment, which greatly reduces aerodynamic resistance. These fully autonomous ‘pods' levitate slightly above the track, which eliminates friction.

Operating on-demand between multiple terminals in large population centres, Hyperloop One offers faster-than-air journeys on many city centre to city centre routes. Hyperloop One plans close integration with airports, with Hyperloop’s unprecedented speed allowing airports to significantly expand their market catchments and to radically improve the attractiveness and environmental performance of their surface access.

Hyperloop One has formed a partnership with FS Links Ab, to study a potential Hyperloop route linking Helsinki and Stockholm, and their two major airports, routing via the Åland Islands which lie between the two countries in the Baltic Sea. A Project Scoping Study was conducted during the first half of 2016. Preliminary findings were published in July 2016 and are available here >>>

Learn about the project from Alan James, VP Worldwide Business Development – Passenger Systems of Hyperloop-One and Mårten Fröjdö, Partner of FS Links Ab and Chairman at Aland Federation of Business Owners at the Global AirRail 2016 conference, taking place in Helsinki on 9-11 November. 


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