Investment in the rail infrastructure in the US opens up lots of new potential opportunities

Director of Training at AssessTech Gabriel Stroud recently visited Los Angeles to attend Smart Transit, an event hosted in Los Angeles looking at how digitalization and technology is revolutionizing transit in the US, from enhanced analytics technologies to real-time passenger information systems.   Rail will become the next big area of infrastructure investment for the US.

Los Angeles is the number one city in the US in terms of congestion, therefore a need for public transport is crucial.  Vehicle drivers spend 119 hours per year stuck in traffic, burning 35 gallons of fuel with an estimated cost of $2400. 

Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer at LA Metro said in his opening talk at the conference, “We are using our streets very inefficiently.  If we can become more effective, then we can solve a lot of problems.”   LA Metro are focusing on changing the minds of the 19 million people who live there to make public transport more than just another method of transportation, but a better alternative to cars, reducing both congestion and pollution. 

On the Westcoast, Texas is aiming to reflect the likes of Japan and Europe with the introduction of the United States first dedicated high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston.  This high-speed train project consists of 240 miles of mostly straight rail-tracks.

“Everything being done in Texas is different to California because it is being done in the private sector,” says Holly Reed, Managing Director of External Affairs at Texas Central Railway“Texas is expanding at an astronomical rate, with residents moving to the urban areas of Houston and Dallas.  The populations on both ends are 7 million — the largest metropolitan areas, the largest universities. We need a sweet spot between ‘too far to drive’ and ‘not far enough to fly’, and Houston and Dallas fit that requirement. We are creating a super economy that is clean, safe, and reliable.”

Looking at other metros across the US, New York ‘s Metro is well used, however needs a significant upgrade to make it comparable to that of the London Underground. 

Asked about his thoughts on the marketplace, Gabriel said, “Competence Management is not currently a key focus for the US rail industry.  Compliance based assessments are currently being used to monitor employees in Light Rail in the US, however as the industry further expands the infrastructure, there will be more demand for developmental competence management. It will be an interesting space to monitor over the next few years.  AssessTech has been evolving its international reach over the last few years, securing customers such as Saudi Arabia Rail, National Express Germany and Eurostar.  We are keen to work with the rail companies in the US over the next few years and this event is a great start to help us understand the landscape.”

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