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"The railway keeps the world moving, it keeps it fed," says Alex Burrows, Director of Enterprise and Innovation of BCREE & Chief Executive of Vanguard STS

&quote;The railway keeps the world moving, it keeps it fed,&quote; says Alex Burrows, Director of Enterprise and Innovation of BCREE & Chief Executive of Vanguard STS
photo: Archive/"The railway keeps the world moving, it keeps it fed," says Alex Burrows, Director of Enterprise and Innovation of BCREE & Chief Executive of Vanguard STS
01 / 08 / 2022

RAILTARGET presents you with an exclusive interview with Alex Burrows, Director of Enterprise and Innovation of BCREE & Chief Executive of Vanguard STS. What plans for the future does the University of Birmingham have, and what are their plans for activities in Slovenia?

I would like to ask you about this conference. How did you enjoy it?

Alex Burrows: It's been a fantastic conference! I always find travelling abroad, and meeting network friends from around the world highly valuable. And to come to Slovenia for the first time and to understand what's going on with Slovenian Railways has been hugely interesting. I'm really glad to have taken a part in it, and it's just great to see people again after the pandemic.

What do you think about the importance of Slovenian railways during the period of war in Ukraine?

Alex Burrows: I think it shows the importance of railways more broadly, and I think we should be very mindful of the important role that the railways play for not just connecting people and places but moving vital goods around. Because the railway keeps the world moving, it keeps it fed. We need to, perhaps, remind people that the railway is central to all our lives, our countries and our communities. And obviously, we wish the very best for Ukrainian railways and the people in Ukraine. We hope that peace can be found very soon.

What are your plans for activities in Slovenia? 

So, as I said, it is my first trip to Slovenia, and I am hugely excited and impressed with what I've seen. I've really enjoyed understanding the work that Slovenian railways are doing to upgrade their network. And also some of the innovations, and we are really keen to hopefully come and play a role in supporting Slovenian railways not just as the University of Bermingham but with the spinout companies that we have as well. And for us, a big focus is on the importance of developing and deploying new technologies that can support both the digital transition of railways and by that, I mean using many more digital technologies to improve the efficiency and reliability and the safety and the general customer experience of the railways, as well as, of course, new technologies that can help us to provide decarbonized railways that answer the climate change challenge. And those are the things we focus on in our research, and we want to turn that research into the improvement of railways in Slovenia and wider, to South East Europe and beyond, of course.

My last question is connected to Birmingham University. Can you tell us something about the plans?

So we are always looking to try and develop more of our research into innovations and products and services that can make big improvements to the railway. And I think what I feel and heard today is that railways, with the climate crisis, with the problems with the war in Ukraine, the railways face a massive challenge to their very existence and affordability, I guess, fundamentally. And what we want to do is we want to become much stronger advocates internationally for how we can use the power of research to generate new innovative technologies that can make railways cheaper to run and make them more reliable and, hopefully, make them much more attractive proposition for people and good, So what we are looking to do in Slovenia certainly is come to work with potential partners and to look at how we can generate real improvements to Slovenian railways. They provide real value for money and real benefits to passengers, to goods. And, of course, to the government and infrastructure managers so that they see the power of the railways in the future wealth and well-being of Slovenia.

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