Rail safety professors give inaugural professorial lectures

Coen van Gulijk and George Bearfield

Mon, 08 May 2017 10:20:00 BST

Professor Coen van Gulijk from the University’s Institute of Railway Research and Visiting Professor George Bearfield from the RSSB will give their lectures on Wednesday 17 May

IRR UK figures show that over the past 12 months there were 1.73 billion passenger journeys by rail – more than twice as many in the 1990s.  Rising passenger demand could mean that the train fleet doubles in size by 2045.  Now, the challenge is to ensure that modern rail travel is as safe as possible, and two University of Huddersfield experts are to deliver public lectures on the topic.  One will describe the emergence of a new breed of “safety scientists”.

The University is home to the Institute of Railway Research (IRR), where Coen van Gulijk is Professor of Railway Safety and Risk.  The IRR has a strategic partnership with RSSB (the Rail Safety and Standards Board), where experienced industry figure George Bearfield is System Safety Director.  He has also been appointed a Visiting Professor at the University of Huddersfield.

train On the afternoon of Wednesday 17 May, the two experts will be delivering their inaugural professorial lectures.  Professor Bearfield begins with a talk titled A Life(cycle) in Railway Risk to be followed by Professor van Gulijk, on Changing the Face of Safety.

In the opening lecture, Professor Bearfield will draw on his 20-plus years of railway experience and explain how “a lifecycle for railway risk” ensures the safety of passengers.  He focusses on a systems engineering approach, through operation and maintenance to decommissioning and the relevance of these concepts to future rail technologies.

Professor van Gulijk – whose research career in the fields of safety and security included posts at leading European universities before his arrival at Huddersfield’s IRR in 2014 – will explore the impact of digital enterprise systems in rail safety.  Developments such as artificial intelligence, incessant data feeds and social media will be explored and Professor Van Gulijk will describe how the face of safety will be changed by what he describes as “a new breed of safety scientists”.

Professor van Gulijk’s activities at the University of Huddersfield have included the organisation of multi-national symposiums, discussing the potential of Big Data in the rail industry. 

  • The twin lectures on 17 May begin with light refreshments at 1.30pm, with Professor Bearfield’s talk at 2.15pm and Professor Coen van Gulijk’s at 3pm, closing at 3.45pm.  The event is held at the University’s Brontë Lecture Theatre.  Attendance is free and can be registered at www.hud.ac.uk/irr/lecture.

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