EDITH: Rail transport must be catalyst for change

EDITH: Rail transport must be catalyst for change
EDITH Managing Director Richard Zienko

In an exclusive interview with EDITH Managing Director Richard Zienko, we discuss successful and necessary strategies amidst significant shifts in rail freight dynamics and the need for climate-friendly transport.

RM: EDITH GmbH & Co. KG offers various services. What are they and how long have they been offered?

Richard Zienko: EDITH GmbH & Co KG (EDITH) is a railway engineering company providing services to various railway operators in Germany and Europe. EDITH focuses on the business areas of railway operations, engineering, training and testing, software solutions, activities as an independent assessment body (AsBo) and legal services.

RM: Rail freight has undergone major changes in recent years. How has EDITH GmbH & Co. KG adapted to these changes in order to remain competitive in the changing rail freight landscape?

Richard Zienko: Rail is the most efficient mode of transport. In order to achieve climate protection goals, rail transport must be promoted. In the master plan, the government has defined the first steps to strengthen the railway sector. This requires a transformation of the railways. With the introduction of innovative and disruptive technologies, such as the major expansion of ETCS and the installation of DAK, the railway can remain sustainable and competitive. EDITH is based on digital transformation. Safety management systems, training and individual processes must be digitised to meet the complexity and scale of the requirements. EDITH's services and software products support this objective of the sector.

RM: The digitisation of transport is becoming increasingly important in the freight transport industry. How does EDITH GmbH & Co. KG use digital solutions to optimise rail freight logistics and offer its customers improved services?

Richard Zienko: By providing our Rail Network software, EDITH is influencing the digitalisation of rail transport and thus contributing to the optimisation of rail operations. Our software is developed by railwaymen for railwaymen. Our many years of experience in the field of railway services and our daily contact with practical problems help us to achieve this. Rail Network is a modular software and offers solutions for e-learning, document management, digital track knowledge, competence register and reporting. Our software currently offers five innovative modules: WBT, DocSync, KomReg, GPS-S and Report. With WBT, you can have your employees complete induction and training courses online. DocSync takes care of distributing your documents to your employees' devices and offers simple and convenient options for configuring group-based access rights. GPS-S allows you to easily record the route, model series and local knowledge of your drivers. KomReg allows you to manage your employees' skills easily and conveniently, thanks to an adjustable pre-selection. Report allows you to manage your reports digitally. The handover book, PZB and fault messages are entered via the app and are immediately available in digital form for further processing.

RM: Rail freight transport networks extend internationally. How can EDITH GmbH & Co. KG help with the authorisation procedures in connection with concessionary access to the rail network or the complexity of complying with regulations, etc.?

Richard Zienko: As part of the implementation of the EU's 4th railway package on 16 June 2020, the safety directive DIRECTIVE (EU) 2016/798 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 May 2016 on railway safety and the COMMISSION DELEGATED REGULATION (EU) 2018/762 of 8 March 2018 on common safety methods relating to the use of railway infrastructure. March 2018 on common safety methods on the requirements for safety management systems pursuant to Directive (EU) 2016/798 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1158/2010 and (EU) No 1169/2010 as a legal basis. With effect from 16 July 2020, the management of railways is obliged to introduce and promote a safety culture. Up to this point, there has been no knowledge of corporate cultures that explicitly affect railway safety. In order to fulfil these requirements, the railways are obliged to develop a corporate culture to increase safety on the basis of existing recommendations and publications of the national supervisory and licensing authority and to implement it in the safety management system (SMS).

Based on the findings of EDITH GmbH & Co KG, a draft concept has been developed that railway companies can use as a guide when developing and introducing a positive safety culture. This includes the basic requirements for the corporate culture, which have been elaborated in literature, and the requirements of the ERA. Implementation, which is regarded as a recommendation for action, is aimed at by means of a procedural instruction that can be integrated into the SMS of the railway undertaking. As part of the SMS, the following documents are to be implemented in the structure as minimum requirements, which are required as part of an authorisation or supervision by the national railway safety authority:

a. Safety regulations

b. Safety culture as a superordinate document

c. Procedural instructions for the application of the safety culture

d. Forms for measuring the safety culture by analysing it and for setting out the measures in the action plan

RM: The COVID-19 pandemic presented the logistics sector with unprecedented challenges. Can you explain how you managed the disruption and kept your training and testing centre open during these uncertain times?

Richard Zienko: Contact restrictions have made training and testing more difficult. The digitalisation of the training and examination process is necessary to ensure that legal requirements are met, particularly those set out in the Train Driving Licence Ordinance. Our training and examination centre, which is recognised by the Federal Railway Authority, offers our courses in a variety of ways. They can be face-to-face, online (digital classroom), hybrid (online and face-to-face) or distance learning (self-study with support). Due to the pandemic, we have expanded our training and testing centre to include the EDITH e-learning portal. Our distance learning courses on the EDITH e-learning portal are approved by the State Central Office for Distance Learning. Participants in these courses work independently, on their own responsibility and within an individually defined time frame. They are trained through regular webinars and, depending on the course, in practice and on the simulator. At the end of the programme, they take a face-to-face exam and receive their certificate.

RM: EDITH GmbH & Co. KG imagines the future of rail freight transport. In your opinion, what trends or innovations will shape in rail freight transport in the coming years and how is your company positioning itself to take advantage of these opportunities?

Richard Zienko: Innovations are a key factor for economic success and provide a competitive advantage. A company's positioning on innovation policy is evident in its strategies and corporate culture. As an example, two crucial key technologies are currently in the starting blocks, ready to be developed, which could revolutionise and radically change the railway industry and thus make it more sustainable. Both projects cannot be realised because no digital transformation with all its facets has been applied. Instead, only technical projects in the area of development were funded in order to advance the technology. Now the technology is ready for use and the overall system does not allow it. The first technology to be mentioned is the European Train Control System (ETCS). Another technology that requires radical change is the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC). The description of these two revolutionary technologies illustrates the need and provides the basis of the argument for radical change without the application of digital transformation. EDITH specialises in the digitalisation and application of innovative technologies to systematically structure the digital transformation in the railway sector.

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