, , , , ,


In starting what’s going to be a busy day here in Germany. Right now I’m preparing to head down for breakfast and a caffeine booste before we all meet up for a trip to the Siemens signalling factory here in Braunschweig. The company have got a full programme planned for our visit, but I should still have time to blog about what we’ll be seeing and learning. The world of railway signalling is constantly developing in the digital world. As one colleague described it – signals were all about keeping trains apart. Now they’re about getting them to run as close to each other as is possible. Here’s today’s agenda.

Then later this afternoon we head back to Hannover for our return flight to the UK. I won’t be back in England until late so I won’t be home until tomorrow, but hey ho…

Keep popping back to see what we get up to. But right now – it’s coffee time…


The day begins…


We’re just about to come back after having a coffee break. It’s been a really interesting morning so far which kicked off with a wide-ranging presentation on the company’s plans and aspirations from Siemens Mobility CEO, Michael Peter.

There’s far too much to describe here but some of the points touched on included how intelligent software and monitoring systems can lead to 100% fleet reliability and save time and money on traditional cyclic maintenance – both on trains and assets themselves. Cloud based interlocking was also discussed with some fascinating examples given about Norway, where the entire rail system is controlled from Oslo – including diagnostics.

Next up was a presentation on Digital solutions from Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of Customer Services. One point raised was how trains and infrastructure need to work hand in hand and how digitalisation can enable this.

The third presentation was from Bart van Munster, CEO of Squills, a company that’s become part of Siemens. Squills provide ticketing services across the UK and Europe.


After another really interesting series of presentations (I’ll tell you the story about passenger journey tracking and the Berlin Depech Mode concert later) we broke for lunch with some fabulous food prepared by the staff of the Siemens canteen.


The afternoon was a very enjoyable as we enjoyed a rare tour of thee world’s biggest signalling factory. The site is involved in some cutting edge projects which I’ll be talking about in another blog. Here’s one, the complete resignalling of the Norwegian rail network which will be controlled from Oslo.

Our day came to an end after the tour and a final presentation on cloud based interlocking. Then it was back to the real world. Our small UK contingent (all three of us) decided to catch the 16:54 back to Hannover, only it was cancelled due to an incident on the line. The station was packed and we were looking at all sorts of possible plan B’s when the stock for the 17:20 rolled in, so we jumped on that. It was soon packed as other trains had been cancelled or were running late.

It got us as far as a place called Peine, where we’ve been sitting for the past 15 mins with no information on what’s happening. Ho hum…


We’ve now sat at Peine for 30 mins – with absolutely zero information about what’s going on. Not a single announcement has been made.


We were on the move shortly after after my last update – some 40 plus mins late. The service to the airport is hardly clockface and it’s only hourly so we abandoned plans to eat at Hannover Hbf and caught the next service to the airport – the 18:57, where we’re enjoying a mostly empty train with good a/c. Upstairs on a packed double- deck coach (our last train) is not the place to be on a sunny day like this.


My final German update. A few of us are now relaxing at Hannover airport before our flight arrives. I can’t say it’s my favourite airport. Much of it is closed or deserted and what isn’t closes early! There’s one food outlet in our terminal and the sole duty free shut at 21:30. Still, the glider’s a nice touch…

23:17. (UK time).

I’m back in the Sceptic Isle having bid goodbye to my colleagues on the plane. The flight was quick and passing through Heathrow terminal 5 was quite painless. Everything worked perfectly.

Shame I can’t say the same for the rest of the UK as it seems I’ve returned to a political shit-show. The Chancellor and Health Minister have both resigned, along with a bunch of lesser political functionaries. It wouldn’t surprise me if more go as despite this, Johnson will do everything he can to cling to power. New lackeys will be appointed in their place and the whole rotten edifice will continue in the same lying, delusional vein whilst the country’s economy continues to fall apart. I see the FTSE 100 lost 2.86% today, continuing its awful spiral, having lost 6.74% in the past month, leaving a lot of people poorer and pension funds looking rocky. If only I could have stayed in Germany…

Is this country ever going to wake up and shake off the delusion that the Tories can be trusted with the economy? They’ve done little but wreck it ever since the Brexit referendum.

After such a positive couple of days It’s deeply frustrating (and embarasding) to return to the kakistocracy that the UK has become under Johnson and his Cabinet of the incompetents. It’s painfully obvious that the only reason Sunak and Javid have resigned is political survival and a crack at Johnson’s job as PM. They’ve no more commitment to the country or public service than the man they hope to replace. But how many Tory voters will fall for it I wonder?

I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank you!