Supporting the Women’s Engineering Society


Written by Mel Sutcliffe, HICSE Test Engineer

On Tuesday 26th June I represented HICSE at an Afternoon Tea event which was organised by the Women's Engineering Society (WES), and hosted at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s headquarters in Carlton House Terrace, near Buckingham Palace.

Women in Engineering

The 250 attendees (predominately women, but with a small number of men) were treated to champagne on arrival (or orange juice, but there weren’t many takers!), followed by tea and coffee and an array of cakes and tiny sandwiches towards the end of the event.

Women in Engineering

The afternoon started with the keynote speech presented by the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dr Hayaatun Sillem, and ended with an award ceremony, recognising the achievements of individuals under the banner of ‘Returners and Transferrers’.

The WE campaign aims to raise awareness of the skills shortage facing the industry and the huge discrepancy between the number of men vs. women currently in Engineering professions. Nominations were available to women working in engineering or allied sector/disciplines, having either returned after a break of at least 18 months or transferred to engineering from another sector.​

If you would like to learn more, please click on the following link:

Women in Engineering

It was a fantastic opportunity to meet other engineers, and to increase the profile of HICSE within the engineering community.


International Women in Engineering Day 2018


Tomorrow, 23rd June 2018, is International Women in Engineering Day and takes place on this date every year. 

It is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focuses on the variety of career opportunities which are available for women to move into.  The idea of the day is to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world.

What a lot of people don't know is that less than 11% of the engineering sector in the UK is made up of women and with a large skills gap and the need for a more diverse workforce, it has never been more important to inspire and encourage more people, especially women, to choose a career in engineering and by supporting International Women in Engineering Day you are helping.

Women in Engineering

There was a huge success with the level of engagement on websites, Twitter and the official hashtag, #INWED17, which received over 34,000 impressions on the actual day alone.

This year the hashtag is #RaisingTheBar (as well as #INWED18) with the aim to raise the awareness of the day even more than last year.

Like many other engineering companies HICSE has a familiar historically-skewed demographic, but we are making good progress and wholeheartedly support the WES initiatives. To recognise the day (and the challenges) we have spoken to a couple of our female engineers and asked them to write a bit about themselves and being an engineer in such a male dominated environment. 

Women in Engineering

The first one is Mel Sutcliffe's article who is currently a Test Engineer at HICSE:

My first job in the IT Industry was working on an IT Help Desk – an experience I’m sure lots of people in this industry will be familiar with. Spending a couple of years in this type of (largely thankless) support role is something of a rite of passage for many - and inevitably, it’s made me much more sympathetic towards the voice at the end of phone when I’m calling any kind of Help Desk or Call Centre! At this point in my career, I was working with a fairly equal mix of men and women.

Having paid my dues on the Help Desk, I moved into the Test Department of the same company, and qualified as a Test Engineer. I subsequently took increasingly senior jobs with different companies, and initially didn’t notice the ratio of men to women changing. However, the more technical my role became, the less women I encountered in the workforce. Eventually, I found myself working as a Senior Test Engineer in a company which consisted of 44 men, and me - the only woman! Soon after starting, I was taken aside and offered the option of having one of the two toilets on my floor assigned exclusively to me. I was tempted to ask them to paint the walls of ‘my’ toilet pink, and hang pictures of frolicking kittens (in tiaras) on the walls, but instead I declined their kind offer, and continued to share the somewhat limited facilities equally with the rest of the workforce. I sometimes dream of that little pink palace I could have created for myself…

I’ve continued to work in environments which consist mainly of men; I previously had a team of all male Test Engineers working for me, and my current department comprises 11 men and just 1 woman – me!

Writing this article has made me question how and why I’ve stayed the course, when other women haven’t; what have I done, or what have I got? I’d love to end this piece with some fantastic moment of self-realisation – Eureka! I’ve found the holy grail of female equality - but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you on that one... I don’t know why I’m sitting in a room with 11 men and no other women – we’re as intelligent, driven and determined as men, but the numbers simply don’t add up.

I hope one day that the ratio of men to women in the IT industry will become more equal, but I’m afraid that goal seems to be a very long way off at the moment.

Women in Engineering

The second article comes from the HICSE Head of Company Assurance:

How I managed to have it all – just not all at the same time!

Most of the people I work with have very similar back stories. They left school, went to university, graduated and started full time work. As graduates the one thing they had in common was that the jobs they went into were a stepping stone to better things. They had Prospects!

At the same age I had left school with no plan, direction or ambition and had three children in four years. This kept me busy for a while. Had my partner been a millionaire I would probably had a few more children and continued to aimlessly potter on. That wasn’t the case so given that children grow out of their clothes and shoes and require food and shelter on a regular basis it became apparent that paid work would have to come into the equation somewhere along the line. So paid work I did! Over the years I pulled pints, flipped burgers, stacked shelves, cleaned things, delivered free papers and sold coffee over the phone. The one thing all these jobs had in common was that they could be fitted in round the children and they paid, albeit badly given that this was before the minimum wage came along.

Fast Forward: I’m broke, shattered and bored. Also older and wiser. There’s no shame in being poor but it’s no picnic either. I decided I wanted to change things so did some research. It seemed that anything to do with computers was the way to go. As I had never even touched a computer at that point I decided to go to an open evening at the local college to find out about evening classes with the vague idea that if I could find out how to use a word processor it might be a Good Thing. Judging by the hourly rates quoted in the Sits Vac columns of the time it would certainly be a way of earning a lot more money.

I went along to the open evening and met the person who would be my tutor for the next two years while I completed a full time HND in Business and Information Technology. Quite how I went from finding out about learning a skill that would pay at evening classes to signing up to become a full time mature student for two years is probably a whole book in itself but without the guidance and support I received that evening it would never have happened. I couldn’t see it happening when I signed up for the course but two years later I walked out of college with an HND and the confidence to sign up for a further year of study – a conversion course leading to a BSc in European Software Engineering.

The new course involved a term a term each at an English, Irish and French university. After I had spent the first 12 weeks driving up to Huddersfield on a Sunday night and back home on a Friday I was ready to quit! The family, children included, spent the fortnight’s Christmas holiday giving me ‘pep talks’. Mainly of the JFDI variety!

Early the next January the children and I loaded as many of our possessions as would fit into my battered Skoda and boarded a ferry to Ireland to spend three months in Cork – me at college and the children at school. It did us all the world of good and we got on the ferry to come back to England in a distinctly tearful mood.

The scene above repeated itself for the final term of the course, this time France. A condition of starting the course modules in any location was passing all those at the end of the previous term I had scraped through (just) at Huddersfield but did much better in Cork. The third term in France was the decider but when I put the last full stop on the last exam paper I couldn’t have cared less about the end result – I had stayed the course! (I passed.)

A big reality check followed on returning to England. I had a brand new shiny degree but now had to decide what to do with it. The HND and degree course timetables gave me the same long holidays as the children. I couldn’t possible hold down a full time job during the school holidays could I?? Think again. Plenty of other people were doing just that – how did they do it? I did some more research, worked it out and went to an agency. They found me a full time job as a Technical Assistant for six months. Four months in I was offered a permanent position which I declined. My long-suffering (they must have been – I was there for 13 years in the end) employers asked why. I explained that I had left one thing off my CV when applying to the agency – my degree. My reasoning at the time was that if the childcare thing didn’t work out I wouldn’t have a blot on my record – or rather my hard-won shiny degree. I figures I would get round to using it eventually but it might have to wait.

Much to my surprise instead of dismissing me as one of the terminally faint hearted my employers offered to sign me up for their graduate trainee programme. I said ‘Yes please!’ I had a riot! I was never bored at work, I learned a lot, I got promoted a lot, I traveled and I met many interesting people.

Fast Forward 13 years: All good things come to an end. The company I was working for was taken over by a much larger company and when voluntary redundancy was put on the table I was one of the takers. Walking out of the place for the last time without a job to go to was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. However, the week before I left I had attended an interview at a very small company – headcount 40 – and the only ray of hope was a second interview the following Monday. I got the job!

Fast Forward 7 years: Today I am Head of Company Assurance for Hitachi Information Control Systems (Europe) Ltd (HICSE), the new name of the small company I went to work for, following its acquisition by Hitachi. My youngest child is 30 and I have a 14 year old granddaughter. I have learnt a lot over the course of the years, the most important things being;-

  1. It is NEVER too late to do anything. There are eighty year olds (and older) running marathons!
  2. You can have it all but probably not at the same time. The hard part for me was working out what ‘it’ was. ‘It’ is different for all of us. Step 2 is working out the ‘when’.
  3. Other people’s opinions are nice to have if good and awful if bad. Don’t ignore either but learn to be your own best critic. If I had listened to other people all those years ago when they said I was crazy to consider going back to college ‘at your age’ I probably would still be broke, bored and exhausted!

If you would like to find out more information about the day, please visit and keep an eye on all social media tomorrow where you will find a lot activity going on


Successful Entry into Service for Paisley & Ayr


The last week in February saw the entry into service of TREsa for the Paisley and Ayr workstations at the West of Scotland Signalling Centre (WSSC).  This completes the first major milestone of the TREsa for MCS rollout into WSSC.  As one of the longest running TREsa projects, this is a huge achievement for the company and the many dedicated engineers who have worked to deliver this system.

TREsa was initially switched on at 10am on Monday 26th February and the initial impressions from the signallers have been very positive. The system has quickly proven its capability in a number of different operating conditions, including the morning and evening peaks, and also during severely disrupted operations due to the weather.


Network Rail’s plan was to phase the introduction of TREsa by first working the off-peak periods of Monday and Tuesday, and then enable full-time operations on Wednesday to include the peak time services. However, the Signallers were so pleased with the system’s performance on the first day that they asked for it to start full-time operation before the Tuesday evening peak. This demonstrates how well the TREsa system is working and their growing confidence in the system.


Wednesday morning saw severe disruption to rail services due to heavy snow.  With the rail network suffering significant issues including points failures, TREsa continued to support the Signallers to keep services running as efficiently as possible.  TREsa was automatically routing trains in the less affected areas, which allowed the Signallers to focus their efforts on the network failures requiring their attention.  This is great example of the benefits TREsa brings to the rail network, showing the difference it can make during degraded operations.


The project team will now be looking to commission the next phases of the project where the Shields, Cathcart, Polmadie and Glasgow Central workstations will see the same benefit of having TREsa support their busy operation.  The company would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of this commissioning and their continued efforts in supporting this project.


First Successful RITA Integrated TREsa System


Huddersfield TREsa went Live this weekend (20th-21st January), the first successful Relay Interface TDM Application (RITA) integrated TREsa system!  The project has been underway over a year, with fantastic commitment from the main project Data Engineer Ben Pennington and everyone at all levels of HICSE coming together to support this complex project. 

Network Rail, Siemens, Hitachi & its suppliers have successfully completed its planned Phase1 Re-Control Commissioning this weekend (wk43) Safely.  During the 54hr disruptive possession, seven existing interlockings were changed over to correspond with the new Siemens WestCAD Control System at York ROC.  In addition, the Automatic Route Setting (ARS) functionality was successfully commissioned and the new Signalling System 'Signed In To Use' during the early hours of Monday morning. The project stays on course to commission the Re-signalling (Phase 2) in Oct 18. 


Not only was RITA a significant hurdle to overcome, but we have also seen through revised requirements from Network Rail whereby Huddersfield Controls are exclusively controlled by TREsa without SIL4 interlocking protection, which has drawn experience from across the company with designs led by our Technical Authorities Dave Biss, verified by Velu Shanmuga.


The impact of this project is significant as many of our current and future projects are relying on the same technologies, so to have this switch on first time is a great milestone to have reached.  


Siemens have also passed on their thanks for our work on the project.

Many thanks for all of your efforts which have culminated in the successful commissioning of Huddersfield-Bradford Phase 1 this weekend. 

The commissioning wouldn’t have gone as smoothly as it did without everyone’s efforts in the design stages and through the enabling stage and rehearsal.

Particular thanks to everyone involved in the big push since Christmas to get everything ready for the commissioning.

Thank you.

With best regards,
Caroline Warrington

Control Systems Manager

Siemens Rail Automation Holdings Limited

 Many thanks to ALL who contributed both before and during the weekend.


Top Marks for New TREsim Train the Trainer Course


Over three days in January (9th - 11th), Mark Herron, HICSE Technical Authority and Tony Prankett, HICSE Technical Trainer, delivered the new TREsim Train the Trainer course at Network Rail's Rugby Rail Operating Centre.  The course was delivered to 5 Network Rail Trainers, including a Digital Railway Trainer.

The training course was a mix of classroom based learning on some already configures laptops so the delegates were able to follow the functionality being demonstrated.  The delegates also got to have a go on the full simulator rig taking it in turns to have a go as an Assessor and a Signaller.  All of the delegates were former Signallers.

Train the Trainer

The new course covered tasks such as starting the Simulator, Timetables, TREsim Overview, Track Menu and Actions, Signal Menu and Actions, Point Menu and Action, Train Describer Menu and Actions, Train Menu and Actions, Localised Actions and an overview of ARS (Automatic Route Setting).


Train the Trainer

So the delegates were able to put what they learnt from the course into practice, they were tasked with writing their own scripts to practice upcoming areas for Signaller assessment.  These included divided trains, wrong direction moves, various infrastructure failures and replaying communications for assessment purposes.


Overall the course was very well received with maximum marks given on the feedback sheets 


London Bridge Redevelopment Complete!


After successful hand back from its final 10 day Xmas and New Year possession, yesterday (2nd January) signifies a landmark for London Bridge and the Thameslink Programme. The culmination of over five years of major redevelopment including wholesale complex multi-staged infrastructure re-alignment and the complete station rebuild of London Bridge was today finally fully commissioned into service.   


Network Rail Thameslink Programme Stage-works Playlist

Hitachi has supported project initiatives for Thameslink Key Output (KO) 1&2 throughout, back as far as 2012. We have provided Line of Route concept viability modelling for the entire area, initial prototype ARS (TREsa), multiple staged Signaller training simulators and Traffic Management system deployments for Thameslink at Three Bridges ROC (TB ROC) and Network Rail Thameslink HQ at James Forbes House in Southwark, London.

thameslink(Image from NR website)

Hitachi now have Isolated Traffic Management and will soon deliver Interfaced Traffic Management. Further ‘outer’ Thameslink areas will also see additional TREsim systems delivered between now and end of 2020, so Thameslink work continues, though for once on a stabilised infrastructure!

As we celebrate our successful involvement in what has been one of the most complex and challenging railway engineering projects of our generation, it’s fair to say that we are extremely proud of what we’ve achieved together so far...


Celebrating 5 Years with Hitachi



It was 5 years ago today (20th December 2012) that the acquisition of TRE (The Railway Engineering Co.) occurred and the start of a journey within the Hitachi family.

  5 years

So many things have happened within the last 5 years.  We have opened and expanded the office our office in Derby to mobilise and deliver the Thameslink Traffic Management System as well as accommodating a number of other non-TMS projects.  In 2015 TRE was re-branded where we adopted the Hitachi brand and changed the company name to Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe Ltd (HICSE).  As we adopted the Hitachi brand, our online presence on the social media platforms and our new website, has improved significantly.  

We have seen a number of innovations in the HICSE product set which are seeing real successes, such as the recent TREsure, TREmodel and Dessan delivery projects.

5 years

Over the last 5 years, our headcount has increased by 300% which shows the success of HICSE and the huge efforts from all of the staff throughout the business.

5 years

To celebrate this milestone, a delivery of cake to each of the three offices had been arranged and enjoyed by all.

5 years

Here's to the next 5 years!


Presenting at the RailSIMtech 2017


RailSimTech 2017 conference and exhibition was organized at the NEC Birmingham on the 8th, 9th and 10th November 2017.

This conference had participants from Railroads, simulator vendors, training institutes, universities mainly from UK and Europe. There were a good number of exhibits from simulation vendors across multiple countries, exhibiting the latest in the area of training, virtual reality and 3D.

The participants shared their rich experience in the areas mainly of the simulators for training in the areas of signaling, train drivers training and maintenance.

HISCE and Hitachi Rail India jointly presented at the conference by Graham Goswell of HICSE and Narendra Ashar of Hitachi Consulting India. Our presentation was about simulation products from HICSE with an innovative idea for the future of Simulation Technology Applications in the area of Railways. Tom Ross, Steve Baker of HICSE and Mangal Dev of Hitachi Rail India were also participated in the conference.

The theme of our presentation was the use of simulation for operations efficiency in railroad operations and use of data, application of data science with Artificial Intelligence/Machine learning in the area of railways.

The presentation not only appraised the elite crowd with the products we have, like TREsim, TREmodel, TREsure, Dessan, TREsa and TRANISTA, it showed innovative possibilities and the way ahead in application of simulation and data based technologies for Railway Operations and Railway Intelligence.

Narendra Ashar began the presentation with a brief introduction to the largest, dense, complex and one of the most diverse railway of the world and its problems. The Railway board, the top body at Indian Railways has identified Operations Research applications as a key to help solve these problems more effectively, though the push for new equipment and technology continues, it is operations research over and above these would lead to Railway efficiency. The products and services with the thought process and concepts the HICSE tools and solutions could be a very effectively used at scale for operations research application leading to Railways efficiency. We also presented the idea of systematic application of capacity measurement and management, process capability indices in Railway operations.

Continuing with the mantra of Railways efficiency at scale for railroads, Graham Goswell presented products and services of HICSE along with a new focus of Data and its innovative use going ahead. Innovate use of data for Predictive maintenance of infrastructure, Incident recovery systems, User ergonomics and Responsive security. This apart he introduced the idea of commercial use of data for Retail intelligence to on-station and local area companies, personalized marketing on train and in station.

The feedback from the elite participants was very encouraging, particularly from the Railroad and Network operations personnel. For many, the use of Simulations in planning, capacity measurement and management, process capability metrics and analytics applications was a new but necessary idea which would help them solve a lot of their problems, and could be looking forward to availability of such tools.

Simulation Technologies integrated into operations management is the promising area and rail efficiency is the new mantra for railways of the world. Hitachi is committed to lead the way for this transformation.


Hitachi welcomes the Digital Railway Team



It was a busy time in our Derby office last week when we had the pleasure of hosting a visit from Network Rail’s David Waboso, Managing Director, Group Digital Railway.  This office is the hub for our Thameslink TMS delivery team and so there is always an excited buzz about the place and David’s visit added another level.

Digital Railway

This was a great opportunity to showcase some of Hitachi’s key technologies and demonstrate their potential effectiveness in meeting many of the challenges associated with delivering the future Digital Railway. David also took time to review progress on a specific initiative we are undertaking as part of the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) Programme. 

It has long been accepted that the use of simulation tools early in the design process is associated with greater levels of success in final delivery and operation. HICSE’s expertise in the development of simulation for infrastructure design and data validation provides industry specialists with the tools they need to fully test the integrity of design options and subsequent operational objectives.

Put simply simulation enables better results, with better cost control, to better managed timescales - all essential requirements to deliver projects the size and scale of the Digital Railway Programme. Given the capacity constraints of the UK network getting things right in a virtual environment vastly de-risks future technology deployment and operational change.  

Delivering the next generation of rail systems requires a step change in technology and approach as outlined in the Government’s ‘Strategic Vision for Rail’. We are delighted that David and his team are open to exploring the opportunities offered by our new technology developments.


Intelligent Transport Conference 2017


Denise Watkins had the opportunity to attend the Intelligent Transport Conference which took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London on 31 October.  This one-day conference is marketed as a chance for transport professionals to hear the latest developments in the industry, join discussions, debates, and do some high end networking.

intelligent transport conference

The event was made up of 4 streams; Harnessing Passenger Data, Mobility as a Service, Smart Ticketing and Payments and Real-Time Passenger Information. Each stream had an agenda and speaker line up relevant to the topic which meant it was like attending 4 conferences in one day.

Following the welcome address and a panel discussion entitled “Where is the Global Transport Industry Going” you then had to choose which sessions to join, which was quite a challenge.

During one of the sessions Denise learnt about the progress being made towards providing mobility as a service and the technologies required to succeed such as App based booking systems, real time information, and WHIM type platforms. WHIM claims to be a one stop shop for all your travel needs. In theory they cover all transport modes, tickets, bookings for end to end journeys and travel plans in one easy-to-use app. Sounds brilliant and is already in use in the West Midlands and could be coming to a city near you soon!

intelligent Transport Conference

One of the 4 streams was a really dynamic presentation from the MD of a company called Zipabout. They provide a data aggregation and communications platform for the transport industry which doesn’t sound that interesting on the face of it but when you delve into the detail of what they can do with the data in terms of predicting demand, monitoring customer experience and targeted communication it was fascinating.  At the other end of the spectrum we heard about the use of data to improve public transport which was more of a look back at what we’ve done rather than a view into the future.

To read more about the Intelligent Transport Conference, please click on the following link: