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Wednesday 13 April 2011

Global challenges bring ‘call to action’ for rail sector and our educational partners

by Stéphane Rambaud-Measson, President, Passengers Division of Bombardier Transportation. He is responsible for the Passengers rail vehicle business with 20 sites in Europe, Asia and Australia and approximately 15,000 employees worldwide.

Our world faces a number of interlinked global challenges. Dramatically increasing populations and rapid urbanization are contributing to significant growth in congestion, particularly around cities.  With nearly 500 cities worldwide expected to have populations of more than 1m by 2020, there has never been a more challenging and interesting time to be involved in urban transport.  Meanwhile, global climate change remains an ongoing concern for us all.  Recent natural disasters in Japan and New Zealand are reminders of the collective call to action to preserve our planet.

Against this backdrop, transportation remains vital to ensuring continued movement of people and goods for economic and societal growth.  Rail has many advantages compared to other modes of transport, consuming less energy and therefore being more environmentally-friendly and cost effective.   Politicians are also encouraging both rail operators and manufacturers to focus on driving down energy costs, increasing operating efficiency and providing ‘greener’ transport. Achieving sustainable mobility – at which rail excels - has become key for the future of society and the rail industry alike.

As a global manufacturer and a market leader Bombardier has an important role to play in underpinning these objectives and it is not surprising that the company’s strategic business goals are aligned to these principles. In addition to producing rail vehicles that have a 95% recyclability rate, Bombardier’s concept of sustainable mobility is to create products that mitigate the diverse impacts of climate change - air pollution, resource scarcity and rapid urbanization. This means products that consume less energy and which, during their use and maintenance, generate less noise, waste and detrimental air emissions.  Bombardier also believes that, by making its products more attractive to passengers, incorporating the latest technology and with an emphasis on passenger-oriented design, it is possible to create a modal shift in favor of rail.

Bombardier’s "The Climate is Right for Trains" campaigns and ECO4 technologies are industry-leading initiatives that directly support the drive for greener transport. Based on the four cornerstones of Energy, Efficiency, Economy and Ecology, ECO4 technologies provide overall energy savings of up to 50% in certain configurations (compared to current products). They represent a unique and market-leading combination of new and proven products that deliver improvements in total train performance and, at the same time, help reduce energy consumption and minimize carbon footprints.

These new challenges and the innovative spirit they require also command a new perspective when it comes to recruiting and developing employees. The changed context of our work demands an even closer relationship with the partnering educational institutions that prepare students to bridge contradictions between economy and ecology, as well as enabling them to navigate in international environments. We also need to professionalize our interface with these institutions, helping us to gain a mutual understanding of the work challenges on one side and of educational capabilities and offerings on the other. Bringing these two sides together was the aim of a joint project with the ESCP Europe in Berlin. This gave us the opportunity to “exchange perspectives” between the partners. Bombardier was invited to run the school for a day while also giving the academic staff of ESCP Europe a chance to play a temporary leadership role in our organization. This event was the starting point of a strong and trusting relationship that is to the benefit of our recruiting and HR development activities and further positioned us an attractive employer in our markets.

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