#SPITZKE Group 05 September 2023

Railway Forum 2023: A Conversation with CTO Mark Fisher

At the Railway Forum 2023, which takes place on Wednesday September 6, 20, 11:45 – 12:35 PM on the main stage, Hans Peter Lang, CTO of DB Systemtechnik GmbH, Mark Fisher, CTO of SPITZKE SE, and Stefan Gladeck, Director SKF EMEA Railway of SKF GmbH, will be speaking as part of the Master Class titled “Expanding Capacity on the Rails: How to accelerate the mobility revolution?” We posed three questions to Mark Fisher in advance.

Mr. Fisher, the topic of your Master Class during Railway Forum is “Expanding Capacity on the Rails: How to accelerate the mobility revolution.” What challenges do companies in the field of railway infrastructure need to overcome in this regard?

First and foremost, it’s about creating the necessary conditions to successfully handle the planned major construction tasks aimed at increasing the capacity of the German rail network to the satisfaction of our customers. This requires qualified companies in the construction sector, large availability of machinery and personnel, as well as many planning firms and other trades, such as construction oversight. Ideally, these companies should collaborate with a high level of expertise, motivation, and a shared understanding of the project, working closely with a partner-oriented client to prepare for and implement projects. When these conditions are met, we can tackle the immense construction tasks of the future together.

 With your subject focused on “Compressing, accelerating, and collaboratively implementing complex railway construction major projects,” you examine the topic from the perspective of companies implementing the projects while also involving Deutsche Bahn as the main client. What are the key aspects in this interplay?

As the SPITZKE Group, we are well-equipped with various skills to smoothly execute complex projects with our clients, all while minimizing friction in interface communication. As I mentioned earlier, it’s crucial that one bring all stakeholders to the table as early as possible—this includes not only clients and contractors but also communities, authorities, neighboring entities, and the general public—in order to make decisions in advance. There’s no time for this during the short construction periods available. The upcoming tasks are so extensive that construction companies alone cannot handle them in the traditional way. Basically, the timeframes between basic assessment, planning, and execution need to be shortened to achieve the planned volume. Additionally, this process must be more effective and collaborative than before. Furthermore, due to the high construction volume on one hand and limited time on the other, we need to compress and expedite the measures, especially in so-called corridor projects.

Moreover, during construction planning, clients have the challenging task of setting up detours and rail replacement services while simultaneously organizing other maintenance measures to ensure that passengers and cargo can continue to be transported. It’s also important to raise awareness among railway customers about the disruptions in rail operations caused by these measures in order to increase their understanding.

Corridor projects will likely dominate the work of railway infrastructure specialists in the future. What changes can we expect?

The Deutsche Bahn has defined corridors as high-performance sections of its rail network that are heavily trafficked and of great importance to rail transport in Germany. The idea now is to take these sections out of operation for several months and completely renovate them, instead of carrying out sporadic short-term closures for individual maintenance measures over the years. SPITZKE has experience with the execution of extensive major projects. The simultaneous, comprehensive renovation of track, overhead lines, stations, and the renewal of signaling and safety systems within a short timeframe is undoubtedly groundbreaking. This introduces a level of complexity in projects that the German industry has not previously encountered. Moreover, we already know that it won’t be limited to just one or two projects of this size per year. With the comprehensive renovation of high-performance corridors during full closures and the high volume of work in a short construction period, we are witnessing a paradigm shift that offers significant opportunities alongside substantial challenges. To achieve this, all parties involved in construction need a shared understanding and the willingness to rethink established practices in a collaborative manner.”