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Event Organiser: ICE

Embracing Innovation in Track Maintenance, online

  • Lecture
  • Online
  • 17 June 2021
  • 15:00 - 17:00
Embracing Innovation in Track Maintenance, online

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The maintenance of track is an essential but costly process, which has a huge impact on services and therefore local communities and the local economy, but also potentially incurs costs for train operators.

What can be done to drive down these costs and impacts?

This webinar will explore the challenges rail companies and infrastructure owners face, the investments they need to make, and the technologies and innovations that will help them achieve their aims more quickly, more efficiently, and at less cost.


15.00 Opening remarks/introduction
Shamit Gaiger, Director of Strategic Advisory, AECOM
15.05 Keynote: Network Rail’s track maintenance strategy
What are the main challenges in track maintenance? How is Network Rail building their strategy, how are they investing and in which technologies?
John Edgley, Chief Track Engineer, Network Rail & President, Permanent Way Institution

15.25 Technical deep dive: Geopolymer injections
• Introduction to geopolymer technology - properties
• Applications in track and rail maintenance: void filling, track bed stabilisation, transition zones, earthworks stabilisation
• Lessons learnt from real world applications Dr Mohamed Wehbi, Technical Director, Geobear

15.45 Panel: Innovating your approach to rail track maintenance
Track maintenance is disruptive to services, impacts on the daily life of users, and has a significant socio-economic cost. In this session, a range of stakeholders will consider:
• Implementation of predictive maintenance technologies
• Utilisation of multiple data sources to evaluate and prioritise maintenance tasks
• Adoption and integration of new technologies
• Leveraging asset management to optimise delivery and reliability
• Attendees will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and add their comments and experiences.
• How can the government support the implementation of predictive maintenance techniques, and utilise AI and big data to reduce socio economic impact caused by track maintenance?
• What can the government do to support SMEs and innovation and what policies promote sustainability in engineering and construction?

Panellists: Lord Anthony St John of Bletso, Chair of the Advisory Board
Geobear John Edgley, Chief Track Engineer, Network Rail & President, Permanent Way Institution
Moderator: Shamit Gaiger, Director of Strategic Advisory, AECOM

16.45 Closing remarks – what have we learnt?


Lord Anthony St John  of Bletso

Lord Anthony

Chair of the Advisory Board, Geobear

Geobear is delighted to announce the appointment of Lord (Anthony) St John of Bletso as Chairman of the Advisory board. The appointment demonstrates Geobear’s commitment to helping governments to reduce their infrastructure maintenance-related costs by providing innovative ground engineering solutions to minimise downtime during maintenance. Politician, businessman and solicitor, Anthony St John is an Independent Non-Executive Director and a Crossbench Member of the House of Lords, as well as Lord-in-Waiting to HM Queen Elizabeth II. Having qualified as a lawyer in South Africa, Anthony St John spent over 30 years serving as a Director of many UK and internationally listed and unlisted companies. Emerging markets, infrastructure and fintech are Anthony’s primary area of expertise and he has worked closely with numerous political and business leaders and provided advice to the UK Government on a wide range of related issues.

Lord Anthony St. John says, “The Department of Transport predicts 55% growth in traffic levels by 2040 with congestion levels rising up to 85% in the same period, caused by urbanisation, climate change and population growth. A significant amount of congestion is caused by ongoing maintenance works; the ongoing road, rail and utilities maintenance will be under pressure like never before to enable this dramatic shift. New ways of working will be a must, at the same time civil engineering and construction’s rate to embrace innovation has room for improvement. Solving the problem will require the collaboration of the whole supply chain. The delivery capacity of top tier contractors, the precision of leading engineers and architects, clear direction from end clients and agility and innovation from SMEs will be required.

Geobear or any other SME with a value-adding innovation cannot contribute towards the desired transformation in large scale without industry collaboration. I am pleased to be associated with Geobear and believe they can make a difference in the way infrastructure maintenance is carried out. Geobear CEO Otso Lahtinen says “It is a great honour to Geobear that Lord St.John chose to Chair our Advisory Board, he knows every angle of the government and has an unparalleled network on the private sector, which will really help us to deliver value for the whole value chain. ”

John Edgley

John Edgley

John has been the Chief Track Engineer for Network Rail since November 2016 and prior to this he was the Professional Head of Track for Network Rail. His career spans over 28 years in the rail industry which encompasses infrastructure maintenance, track renewals, railway plant, multidisciplinary engineering projects and more recently leading the technical authority track engineering function within Network Rail. John also chairs the industry Seasonal Challenge Steering Group which is tasked with providing advice and guidance to the industry to improve the seasonal performance of the railway and reduce train delays. John joined the rail industry as a sponsored student and then a graduate trainee in 1991, just before privatisation of British Rail working for GTRM. Following completion of his training he became a Track Maintenance Engineer looking after a very busy part of the Network (Wolverhampton and Birmingham New Street). He graduated from the University of Leeds with a BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering and Construction Management and is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He is the current President of the Permanent Way Institution.


Mohamed Wehbi

Mohamed Wehbi

Mohamed has recently joined Geobear as their new Technical Director and he is a Civil Engineer specialised in geotechnics and transportation. He came from Network Rail where he worked as a Senior Design Engineer in the Track Bed Investigation team. His responsibility in that role was to develop Network Rail’s in-house track bed modelling capabilities and provide bespoke design solutions for problematic sites. During his time in Network Rail, Mohamed has led the Track Bed Stabilisation (TBS) programme and many other innovation initiatives that resulted in the introduction of new technologies to Network Rail’s standards such as Geocells, Micro-piles and Under-Sleeper-Pads. These new technologies have resulted in significant cost savings to Network Rail on various track renewal projects and enhancement schemes.

Mohamed has a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Birmingham and he is also a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Fellow member of the Permanent Way Institute (PWI). He recently received an Honorary Research Fellow position at the University of Birmingham in the School of Civil Engineering. Mohamed is actively publishing technical papers in peer reviewed journals and international conferences and his research work has won a number of awards in the Permanent Way Institute and Railway Business Award.

Shamit Gaiger

Shamit Gaiger

Director of Strategic Advisory, AECOM

Shamit leads AECOM’s Strategic Advisory Practice. She is a Trustee and board member for Campaign for Better Transport and was recently asked to Join Women in Rail as A Trustee and board member. Shamit has over 20 years’ experience in developing national and sectoral policies and strategies for the UK in areas such as innovation, technology, industrial strategy, sustainability, risk sharing, productivity, decision taking, funding and financing, skills and leadership. Most recently, she led the negotiations on the Rail Sector Deal on behalf of HM Government. She was personally asked to take specific industry roles and conduct reviews of industry policy. Until Feb 2020 Shamit was a Non-Executive Director at the Department for Transport’s Passenger Services, and a member of the Franchising Advisory Panel to Secretary of State. Shamit has won various international awards and she was recently named by Rail Magazine as one of the most influential women in rail

Stuart Witts

Stuart Witts

Senior Engineering Manager, J Murphy & Sons

Stuart is a Senior Engineering Manager at J Murphy & Sons, where he acts as Contractor’s Engineering Manager (CEM) for the railway earthworks and drainage portfolio. Prior to this he has worked as CEM on a wide variety of multi-disciplinary rail projects throughout the UK.

Stuart holds an MEng in Civil Engineering from Imperial College, London. He joined Railtrack on their civil engineering graduate programme in 2002. He held various roles within Network Rail across asset management and project delivery. Highlights included delivering some of the first railway structures to make use of advanced composites and working with cross functional teams to develop business cases for future network electrification.

He is a Chartered Engineer with the ICE, a supervising civil engineer (SCE) and a member of the Permanent Way Institution.

Jason Grocott

Jason Gracott

Head of Track, Arcadis UK

Currently Head of Track for Arcadis UK. An accomplished, customer focussed, innovative and problem-solving Permanent Way (P-Way) practitioner / expert with over 25 years’ experience of civil engineering with the last 19 years specialising in P-Way including maintenance, feasibility, surveying, design and renewal and multi-disciplinary project works.

Jason has delivered commissions for Network Rail on their standards updates and their Business Critical Rules Programme, is Project Director for DLR commissions and has delivered technical advisory work for, High Speed 1, High Speed 2 and various overseas Infrastructure Managers. A Former PWME for Sussex, responsible for the Track Maintenance of approx. 250 route km of track and 450 S&C units. This included the Brighton Mainline from Redhill to Brighton, including Gatwick and Balcombe Tunnel Junction, and the lines to Emsworth in the west and Pevensey in the East.

Jason is also a Fellow of the Permanent Way Institution and a part-time lecturer on alignment and track construction at the National College of Advanced Infrastructure.

Event venue

United Kingdom

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