Exploring the top rail industry trends in 2024 and how it will impact your role.

Posted on 13 February 2024

The rail industry is undergoing a technological transformation that looks to redefine how trains operate. From trains being able to run themselves, to a cleaner and greener focus and the increase of smart technology, the rail industry in the UK is entering a new age that is sure to have an impact on those working within the industry.

What can we expect to see within the rail sector in the coming year, and what does this mean for you if you're currently working in the space? Continue reading to find out!

Autonomous Trains

Autonomous trains, enabled by advanced sensor technology and real-time data transmission, are an effective solution to improve punctuality, reliability and capacity optimisation in the rail industry. Upgrades to signalling technology and automatic train control systems are valuable for reducing technical errors, improving traffic information and reinforcing passenger confidence when travelling.

OTIV - Leading the Autonomous Revolution in Rail

OTIV develop advanced driver-assistance systems and full-self driving solutions for light rail operations. This organisation uses artificial intelligence, deep learning, computer vision and sensors to develop the zero-emission OTIV Light Rail Vehicle System, which adapts locomotives to urban environments.

GEAR International Holdings – Integrated Signalling

GEAR International Holdings provides integrated railway signalling solutions. Their system uses train location information for interlocking, enabling communications-based train control. The movement and interlocking of trains are integrated with wayside signalling control systems. The organisation's signalling solutions ensure safety, optimise the movement of trains, and maximise platform availability.

What does this mean if you work in Rail?

The introduction of autonomous trains is set to revolutionise roles within rail. As advanced systems become more important, we will start to see a shift in the skills that are required for professionals in the industry. There will be more of an emphasis on individuals having expertise in data analysis, AI and System Maintenance.

Roles that are related to traditional manual train control will see a decrease, whilst roles in interpreting data, developing algorithms and troubleshooting systems will have more prominence. With the implementation of upgraded signalling technology and automatic train control systems, we will see a greater demand for a workforce that is capable in navigating these systems.


Even though railways are one of the most sustainable forms of transportation, following the government's net-zero emission plans, plans are being made to look at further decarbonising the rail industry. The most common decarbonisation solutions involve replacing diesel trains with battery technology, hydrogen fuel cells or electric trains. To minimise CO2 emissions, operators in the rail industry must deploy electric locomotives that use energy from renewable sources, like solar or wind.

Core Environmental Systems – Energy Storage Solutions

Core Environmental Systems is an organisation that offers energy storage solutions to communities and is used across industries, including rail. The organisation's Enviro Cell-Rail is designed to specifically meet the demands of the rail industry, solving the crank power shortages of traditional batteries. The organisation reduces (Sometimes eliminating) the loss of money for rail operators, increasing the efficiency of transportation across rail.

What does this mean if you work in Rail?

The approach towards decarbonisation in the rail industry alongside the government's net-zero emission goal, will significantly transform roles within the rail industry. As railways are recognised as one of the most sustainable forms of transportation, there will be a large emphasis on being able to reduce carbon footprints, meaning there will be a shift in skills required for rail professionals.

As the rail industry looks to replace conventional diesel trains with more sustainable alternatives such as battery technology, hydrogen fuel cells and electric trains, roles in the maintenance, operation, and management of new technologies will start to become critical. The integration of electric locomotives that are powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, will need a workforce that are capable of navigating these complex systems.

Engineers, Technicians and Planners who have expertise in integrating renewable energy and sustainable transportation solutions will play a pivotal role in guiding the rail industry towards a greener and more environmentally friendly future.

Artificial Intelligence

Over the past year, we have seen the continual rise of AI, and it is not a secret that this year we will see this continue to increase. AI finds itself in numerous applications across the rail industry as it encompasses asset management, predictive maintenance and emergency notification. Deep learning algorithms and neural networks are vital in optimising train scheduling and minimising delays, alongside advanced passenger information systems that improve transportation services and increase passenger satisfaction.

The Train Brain – Public Transportation AI

The Train Brain is an organisation that develops AI models to improve the reliability of public transportation. The organisation's tools deliver delay forecasting, including real-time traffic simulations and reporting. The tool can process train schedules, signalling or GPS to conduct rail network forecasting. The organisation enables rail operators to make data-driven traffic planning decisions and passengers to be more informed when planning commutes or travels.

Cedar AI – Rail Yard Operations

Cedar AI is an organisation that offers AI solutions to help rail operators improve yard efficiency. The organisation's AI-powered platform integrates with existing software to ensure safety rule compliance during rail yard operations. The platform helps rail operators optimise yard processes, reducing workload and improving the safety of train handling.

What does this mean if you work in Rail?

The increase in AI over the past year will create a significant shift in roles in the rail industry. The trend of AI will create further momentum this year, redesigning functions in rail operations. As AI expands into areas such as asset management, predictive maintenance, and emergency notification systems, we will start to question how these advancements will impact roles traditionally associated with these functions.

As deep learning algorithms and neural networks become integral for optimising train scheduling and minimising delays, roles within the rail sector will see a transformation. Whilst AI becomes infused into advanced passenger information systems, there will be a shift in skill sets required, showing an indication that roles in role will demand expertise in managing and utilising cutting-edge technologies to ensure operational efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

Big Data & Analytics

The use of big data and analytics in the rail industry will pave the way for train communication, predictive analytics, asset management, passenger information systems and data management platforms. By fitting smart railway sensors, millions of data points are gathered and analysed to improve the safety, security and reliability of infrastructure in rail. By being able to predict failures, rail operators can plan repairs, increasing the availability of rail. Startups and scaleups in the rail industry are beginning to develop IoT sensors to collect data for rail infrastructure.

Raildiary – Data Tracking Platform

Raildiary is an organisation that provides a data-tracking platform for railway construction companies. They developed the Sitediary app, which is a platform for railway project management and analysis. The organisation's solution finds applications in rail, including maintenance, signalling and electrification, whilst also looking at fatigue and emergency management. These solutions optimise the efficiency of rail construction projects, minimising delays, resource waste and unnecessary costs.

What does this mean if you work in Rail?

The integration of big data and analytics in the rail industry will have a big impact on roles in the sector. As technologies like this become more widespread, roles in train communication, predictive analytics, asset management, passenger information systems and data management, will undergo important transformations. Rail professionals will need to adapt to this changing landscape by gaining skills in data analysis, machine learning and IoT technology.

The move towards predictive analytics, enabled by the collection and analysis of large amounts of data from smart railway sensors, will redefine roles in maintenance and operations. Operators in rail will increasingly rely on data-driven insights to plan and execute maintenance activities to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of rail infrastructure. The development of IoT sensors will emphasise a need for experts who are capable of leveraging technologies for data collection and analysis. Data and analytics will create an increase in focus on technological proficiency in rail.

Rail Connectivity

Modern railway mobile communications systems are now enhanced with 5G technologies, which allows for low delays in communications and high performance, including the reliability of railway infrastructure. Train connectivity applications span across train positioning, control, maintenance, the experience of passengers and passenger data collection.

Cnection – Automatic Vehicle Identification Software

Cnection is an organisation that offers Rail AVI, an automatic vehicle identification system that electronically tracks trains as they pass on the network. They have developed software that performs complex translation algorithms, which are useful for monitoring train movements across the rail networks.

As trains pass fixed trackside readers or handheld devices, tags harvest radio energy from the reader, transmitting a unique vehicle ID back within a second. Rail AVI provides an efficient electronic way of automatically identifying trains without having to slow them down.

What does this mean if you work in Rail?

The incorporation of 5G technologies into modern railway mobile communication systems is set to reshape roles within the rail industry. This advancement will introduce low-latency communication and high-performance capabilities, enhancing the reliability of railway infrastructure. The impact this has on roles will be evident across various areas, ranging from train positioning and control to maintenance and passenger experience.

Rail professionals will need to adapt to this changing landscape by having expertise in managing and leveraging 5G technologies. the development of 5G will enable real-time communication and precise control, transforming roles that are related to ensuring the safety and efficiency of train operations. As 5G continually develops in the sector, roles will evolve to embrace the possibilities offered by this technology, strengthening the need for a workforce that has the skills to navigate and optimise the advancements in railway communication systems.

The rail industry is undergoing a transformative phase, driven by technological innovations that promise to enhance efficiency, sustainability, and passenger experience. As we delve into 2024, these trends promise afutureof innovationfor the UK rail industry.

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