Created to help railways interconnect, Hit Rail has been enabling Connectivity and Interoperability for the railways of Europe for 25 years
Hit Rail is one of the leading organisations spearheading the drive towards interoperability throughout the European railway industry. It was founded in 1990 in response to the need for renewal of the Hermes network connecting 11 of Europe’s railways. Originally formed to provide a coordinated and professionally managed International railway data communications network. Its role has developed over the years to encompass and support the new trends in IT and technology. These include the IP/VPN revolution, structural changes within the railway and transport industries in Europe and the growing requirements of the European Union for interoperability.
Today Hit Rail is at the forefront of railway ICT initiatives and has a clear strategy to enable and facilitate a more effective, collaborative and value-for-money railway environment. The organisation is aligned with EU policy objectives and works closely with the main international bodies in the rail sector, including ERA (European Rail Association) and Raildata, with new cooperation agreements set to be announced shortly.
During the workshop a keynote speech was given by Patrick Bossert, Transformation Director of the Digital Railway programme, funded by GB’s Network Rail. Talking about the future of the rail industry and the importance of IT initiatives in accelerating the drive towards modernisation, Patrick Bossert said: “Across Europe we see the potential for digital technology to enable more trains, better connections and greater convenience for passengers. It’s about making more effective use of what we have today, rather than building new – we have the potential to realise up to 40% more capacity from our existing rail networks. Achieving this, however, isn’t easy. It needs interoperability, and it needs the ability to migrate easily from the old ‘proprietary’ world of systems and data to the new.”
Hit Rail is a private company owned by 12 European infrastructure managers and railway undertakings and is constituted as a non-profit oriented company. Its flagship service, HEROS (HERmes Open Services), is a multi-channel open service platform for rail interoperability and is designed to solve problems caused by lack of interoperability between railways’ IT systems. It is a classic middle ware approach that provides connectivity allowing railways to migrate their IT systems at their own pace, using open standards and market-proven technologies and in compliance with the objectives of the EU’s TAP and TAF TSIs.
“Our aim is to provide affordable solutions to the railway community,” explains Antonio Lopez, Hit Rail’s Managing Director. “We have a vast experience in railway interoperability issues and have developed international expertise and prestige in complex Pan-European projects, providing an environment open to all railway players.”
For the future, Hit Rail is continuing to integrate its interoperability services, the Hermes VPN and the HEROS platform into the Hermes Ecosystem. The aim is to build the Hermes Ecosystem as a network of collaborative companies including customers, business partners and other interested parties in each of the railway markets, passengers, freight and infrastructure. The ecosystem will then be able to deliver interoperable international applications, reductions in cost and complexity for TSI and compliance with EU mandates including TSI.
“After 25 years we are still only just beginning,” says Helmut Grohmann, Hit Rail’s Chairman. “We are still full of ideas and, with the many long-term and new relationships we have formed and our continuously growing customer base, the future still looks extremely bright for Hit Rail and our Hermes Ecosystem.”