The Number One Challenge For Aurecon’s New Global Rail Leader
Global engineering and infrastructure advisory
firm Aurecon has appointed rail infrastructure delivery specialist Becky Wood as its new Global Service Leader, Rail & Mass Transit
Becky will set the direction for this growth market and drive its capabilities forward as the team pursues major projects, particularly in Asia, and completes its current pipeline, including Auckland City Rail Link
, Gold Coast Light Rail, Mauritius Metro Express
light rail, Melbourne Metro
, and several Sydney Metro projects such as Sydenham Station Junction.
Coming from a finance rather than a traditional engineering background, Becky believes that understanding the future of rail requires a ‘systems thinking’ perspective.
“For me, railways can be complex systems so understanding the future needs of passengers, freight and connectivity in general is all about data and how we make sense of it,” Becky said.
“We need to understand what the vast amount of information we collect about the sector is telling us, so we can focus innovation on where it will be most meaningful for safer, more efficient, more accessible and better-connected railway systems.
“Our number one challenge is to better understand that data and what it suggests needs to evolve in our thinking about rail, allowing us to develop new ways to move people and goods, to imagine through virtual reality how our stations could look before they are built and to collect information that could improve safety outcomes.
“And of course, what’s central to really understanding the data is drawing on the breadth of expertise across the rail business to make sense of it. In short, a lot of this is about people, and that’s partly why I enjoy our sector so much.”
The Asia Pacific region leads globally in railway investment with expected investment
increasing from USD$557 billion to nearly USD$900 billion per year by 2025.
Becky joins Aurecon from Transport for NSW where she was the Executive Director, Fleet Program Delivery, responsible for the AUD$6 billion program of new heavy rail rolling stock and ferry vessels for the State. In 2018, Becky was named one of the top 50 public sector women in NSW.
Rail is in Becky’s blood. Her grandfather and great-grandfather built tank locomotives in the North of England that were shipped far and wide. While those steam trains are a world away from the energy efficient driverless trains used today, the inspiration to explore the industry from the global perspective has stayed with her.
“My interest in the rail sector has always gone way beyond the rolling stock and fixed infrastructure; for me it’s about communities and what rail can do to connect people and move people and goods around in a safer, more efficient, more accessible and more enjoyable way. Rail can be transformational in terms of both urban and regional liveability and connectivity, and can bring a positive impact to people from all walks of life. That’s why it’s such an exciting industry to be part of,” Becky said.
Becky is an experienced rail delivery professional, having managed a range of complex and significant major rail programs with past roles including Director Rail Major Projects and Growth for the UK’s Department for Transport where she was the government sponsor for the £15 billion Crossrail Project and played lead roles on the Thameslink, Intercity Express and national network electrification programs. She has also led a range of major station upgrades and international and technical rail matters for government.
“There are so many opportunities to unlock capacity, even within our older rail systems, but that requires considering those opportunities from multiple angles and through all phases of work. From fleets to signalling systems, and to fixed infrastructure, and from design right through to operations,” Becky said.
“Opportunities in design particularly interest me. I was fortunate to have been seconded earlier in my career into the role of Deputy Director for the UK’s Department for Transport for the London Olympics and Paralympics and it was during this time that I really came to understand with those athletes, particularly the Paralympic athletes, the role that smart transport design can play in bringing communities together and making our cities accessible to all.”
Aurecon’s Managing Director, Infrastructure Ben Stapleton said he was delighted to have Becky on board.
“Becky joins us at an exciting time for our Rail team. We are experiencing significant growth in this sector and are expanding our capabilities rapidly in Asia to meet client demand. Becky will help to bring a diversity of thought and the power of her perspective from working in the public sector will be a great asset,” Ben said.
“She brings a financial and economic lens that will consider all aspects of the industry from sustainability to safety and from freight to passenger and how we can design to meet these challenges.”