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ICE Summer Prestige Debate 2024: transport

Event organised by ICE

13 June 2024

This event has now ended


Many extraordinary transport projects in the UK have benefited communities, boosted the economy and helped to alleviate climate change over the past decade, but a large proportion have suffered from unplanned parameter changes, delays and cost overruns.  

Reputation-harming problems of this kind make it hard for the sector and the engineers within it to maximise the benefits of their work. 

The industry – and anyone making decisions affecting major transport projects – must learn from these problems and adapt accordingly to ensure that infrastructure meets the public’s needs and achieves its economic and environmental goals.  

Better investment choices and scrutiny of project preparedness and management are core requirements if the sector is to shift mindsets and modernise itself. 

Combined with this is the need for the industry to embrace a digital future and consider radical approaches and solutions to the challenges facing infrastructure delivery. 

We’re delighted that the 2024 Summer Prestige Debate will be opened by Mark Carne, Network Rail’s chief executive from 2014 to 2018.  

Drawing lessons from HS2 and the cancellation of its northern leg, his keynote address will explore how the industry and government can improve the decisions they make about key transport projects and rebuild public confidence in infrastructure delivery. Experts in the field will then debate the topics he raises.  

This event, along with the spring debate that took place in March, and the autumn debate, to be held on 02 October, comprise the 2024 Prestige Debate series. Be sure to make a note of the autumn date and catch up on the spring debate here.


18:30 - 19:00

Registration and refreshments

[Registration starts at 18:30 for anyone attending in person. For those joining online, we recommend that you log into the platform at 18:45 to test the connection.]

19:00 - 19:05

Welcome from the chair - Jim Hall, ICE senior vice president and professor of climate and environment risks at the University of Oxford

19:05 - 19:45

Keynote talk by Mark Carne, former chief executive of Network Rail

19:45 - 20:25

Panel debate, featuring:

  • Helen Taylor, work winning director, Kier
  • Richard Sanderson, vice president and head of transportation UK & Europe, Jacobs
  • Gemma Christian, associate, Expedition Engineering
  • Alexis Solomou, assistant engineer at Arcadis and one of the ICE President’s Future Leaders of 2023-24
20:25 - 20:30

Closing remarks from the chair

20:30 - 21:30

Networking reception for in person attendees


Prof Jim Hall

Prof Jim Hall

University of Oxford

professor of climate and environmental risks

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Prof Jim Hall

An ICE Trustee, Jim Hall is internationally recognised for his research on risk analysis for water resource systems, flooding and coastal engineering, infrastructure systems and adaptations to climate change.

He is a commissioner on the National Infrastructure Commission and member of the Council for Science and Technology, both of which provide independent expert advice to the UK government. He also served on the Climate Change Committee’s adaptation sub-committee in 2009-19.

Jim led the development of the national infrastructure systems model that was used for the ICE’s influential national needs assessment and for the UK’s first national infrastructure assessment.

He invented the UK Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure, which he continues to serve as the chair of its governance board.

Among various distinctions, Jim was awarded the ICE’s George Stephenson Medal in 2001 and the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water in 2018. He also contributed to the Nobel Prize-winning Fourth Assessment Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Mark Carne

Mark Carne

Network Rail

former CEO

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Mark Carne

The period in which Mark Carne led Network Rail – 2014 to 2018 – saw the largest programme of railway upgrades in a century. Major new stations, such as London Bridge and Birmingham New Street, were delivered, as well as the Borders Railway in Scotland and substantial programmes of electrification nationwide. 

Mark also initiated the network’s digital transformation, including the move from line-side signalling to onboard digital train control to improve capacity, reliability and safety. 

Before Network Rail, he had a long career in oil and gas in which he led Shell’s businesses in the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring. 

With a background in engineering, Mark now champions emerging technologies with the potential to transform how transport projects are designed and delivered.

Gemma Christian

Gemma Christian

Expedition Engineering


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Gemma Christian

A chartered civil engineer with more than 15 years’ industry experience, Gemma Christian joined Expedition to help clients improve efficiency and effectiveness with the aim of decarbonising the infrastructure sector.  
Her strong technical background is supplemented by time onsite and several projects ranging from listed-building refurbs to hyperscale data centre builds. She has also worked extensively on railway station design and delivery in the UK, North America and the Middle East. Having helped to deliver numerous projects in sports and leisure too, she is leading this sector’s group work on the development of the UK’s net-zero-carbon building standard.   

Both strands of Gemma’s work demonstrate her interest in delivering change and social value that can enhance quality of life. This continues at Expedition, where she helps transport clients to improve their delivery of accessibility capital programmes.

Alexis Solomou

Alexis Solomou


assistant engineer

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Alexis Solomou

Having graduated from the University of Surrey in 2022 with an MEng in civil engineering, Alexis Solomou has been working on a variety of projects at Arcadis. These have covered aspects ranging from asset management frameworks to bridge designs. 

Passionate about entrepreneurship, digital innovation, sustainability and being part of the net-zero transformation, Alexis is also one of the ICE President’s Future Leaders for 2023-24. Throughout this period, he hopes to help build on the institution’s sustainability initiatives and expand its influence in the wider industry.

Richard Sanderson

Richard Sanderson


vice president, head of transportation

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Richard Sanderson

Richard is the head of Jacobs' transportation operations in the UK and Europe, responsible for 1500 colleagues and projects across the highways, rail and aviation sectors.  

A transport planner by background, Richard has worked on the development of transport infrastructure projects across the globe with a particular focus on transactions and the early development of major programmes such as Crossrail, the Lower Thames Crossing and the London and Los Angeles Olympic Games.