21 September 2018 - From the desk of

PUBLISHED ON 21/09/2018
21 September 2018 - From the desk of

Today, I attended a breakfast meeting organised by KiwiRail and Siemens about the future of work. Quite an exciting topic that will affect us all at some point.  The Minister of Finance, the Hon Grant Robertson, shared his thoughts with the audience as did a panel of experts whose field of expertise is future change. I captured a few interesting quotes: “Futurologists are always right, because the future never arrives”, “there is no time to sit it out anymore”,  “current employment models are not fit for the future” and “we do not need to worry about the millennials, because they already get it, it is the older generations that are completely unprepared.

This discussion made my mind wander to where we could be in 10 years’ time. I wonder what you think? These are my initial thoughts:

Transdev still operates in New Zealand and has taken a much bigger share of the public transport market. We are not only operating trains, but also buses, ferries and transport on demand services. We have multi-functional teams who work on developing and optimising mobility solutions. Many of them work remotely from any location they prefer, communication technology has vastly improved to allow this. People no longer get paid for the hours they attend but for the contribution they make to the business.

Transdev’s operating model has completely transformed. The buses we run are all battery powered and are being charged whilst driving on dedicated bus lanes (technology currently in development and working). These buses are mostly autonomous and optically guided. Trains are also mainly autonomous and Automatic Train Operations exists across the network. The train operating centre is bigger than ever before; controllers are monitoring a service that is three times more frequent than today. If required they can voice control any vehicle and guide it through traffic.

Headways have been reduced to one minute or less, and all modes of transport are completely interconnected. People can move from anywhere to their destination with ease by following their individualised travel plan, generated and paid for on a smart phone app. High levels of automation and predictive technology have made disruption and safety incidents a thing of the past; algorithms are constantly working in the background and advise traffic controllers on how to keep the public safe, avoid congestion and accommodate demand.

Although Transdev’s employees were initially anxious about these new developments, most could be retrained and gained a lot more freedom and fulfilment than they had before. Their (grand) children cannot even imagine their parents used to work shifts or nine-to-five jobs as the new employment agreements are much more tailored to individual needs. For the first time in decades, Aucklanders can travel from door to door congestion free.”

And now for something completely different, we celebrated 125 years of woman’s suffrage in New Zealand this week. I believe there is still a lot of unconscious bias within our industry, which is holding women back. That is a lost opportunity, because we are not using the full potential of our business or indeed the NZ work force. I have made it one of my goals to create an environment in which everyone can get a fair chance to progress and contribute.  Please don’t hesitate to approach me and help me with this challenge.

Finally, we had a SPAD last week. Compared to last year, we are doing tremendously better; kudos to you all. If September had been SPAD free, our rate would have dropped to 0.6 per million train kilometers; that is close to the best European train operators. Unfortunately, we are not quite there yet. The next step is to try and understand what happened, so we can learn from it and avoid the same mistake happening again. 

Have a great weekend.

Ma te wa,


Michel Ladrak

Managing Director


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