International Women’s Day 2018


Today (Thursday 8th March 2018) is International Women’s Day and the theme for this year is #PressForProgress.  The aim is to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

This day is a global day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women which started in 1908.  In 1908 there was a critical debate amongst women and their oppression and inequality was driving women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change.  15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. 

international women's day

World-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist, Gloria Steinem once said ‘The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights’.  Because of what Gloria said, International Women’s Day is about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action.

Four colours now signify International Women’s Day and all have their own meaning:

  • Purple – Signifies justice and dignity
  • Green – Symbolises hope
  • White – Represents purity however it is no longer used
  • Yellow – Represents ‘new dawn’ which is commonly used to signify a second wave of feminism

international women's day

On the day before World War 1 campaigning for peace, Russian women recognised their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913 and following discussions, the day was transferred to the 8th March and has stayed this date ever since.

To the present and future, International Women’s Day has now become an official holiday in a lot of countries, such as Afghanistan, Cuba, China (for women only), Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam to name a few.  In some countries, International Women’s Day has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day.

We were able to download for #PressForProgress selfie cards which HICSE colleagues had a look through and chose their favourite one out of the collection to then have their photograph taken and for them to be uploaded onto social media with the hashtag #PressForProgress.

international women's day

If you would like to find out more about International Women’s Day, visit #PressForProgress


Birmingham Proof House ARS Simulator



The Automatic Route Setting (ARS) capable version of the TREsim Simulator for the Birmingham Proof House workstation has been successfully delivered to the West Midlands Signalling Centre (WMSC) in Saltley (Birmingham).


The Contract, variously referred to as Birmingham Proof House, or Birmingham New Street (BNS) Phase 6, or more snappily as BNS Ph 6, is with Siemens Rail Automation. A Non-ARS version of the simulator has previously been installed, enabling initial signaller training. The ARS enabled Simulator will now allow Network Rail Operations to progress Signaller Training in the ARS aspects prior to commissioning of the TREsa ARS system for Proof House at the end of May.

Senior Data Engineer Simon Oscroft developed the system whilst establishing a positive working relationship with the technical team at Siemens, resulting in very fast turn-around of updates.

The Proof House workstation controls a very busy area fringing with Birmingham New Street and including Birmingham International Station. Simon has developed complex fringe logic to simulate the traffic in and out from BNS. Experienced Network Rail Signallers and Trainers have been impressed at the ability of the ARS system to cope with the high volume of traffic, even when running the simulator at faster than real-time.

Timescales for the development were severely condensed, but deliveries have been achieved to the original schedule without any dramas.

The Proof House TREsa is currently undergoing final formal testing in preparation for factory acceptance test on the deliverable hardware in April and subsequent site acceptance test at end of May.

Proof House will be the first TREsa system to go live at WMSC. The Cherwell Valley system will be switched on soon after once Signaller Training is completed.


Ops in Japan



Written by Suleman Qazi

As a member of TMS Thameslink team I work very closely with our colleagues in Japan and I was honoured to receive an invitation to Visit Omika, Japan. The main purpose of the visit was to get a better understanding of the overall TMS systems and to discuss the ways and means to improve our working methodologies in order to carry out the production tasks in a more efficient manner.

During the first week, our hosts Ohta-san & Murakami-san introduced us to the wider Hitachi Omika data production team and we were provided with an opportunity to address to hundreds of people during the monthly team meeting.

We went through some exciting and extensive seminars and workshops on Traffic Management Systems in Japan and overseas. We learned about the system architecture and its applications, we were provided with tutorials and factory visits to look at their Traffic Management Systems closely and in detail. 


During the second week I ran several workshops and lectures to share the knowledge with our colleagues and to give them in depth understanding of UK railways ARS systems.

Through collaborative brain storming sessions between myself, Mizukawa-san (Researcher in Japan) and Noboru-san we managed to come up with some improvements in our working methodologies which will be implemented in our future TMS projects and will result in time and cost savings.

My third week was all about summarising our work from first two weeks and to devise a plan on how to drive the changes forward, opportunely our (HICSE) directors were in Omika as well during my third week and I was able to demonstrate my findings to them as well.

Overall I was in Japan for three weeks and over the weekends my aim was to explore Japan as much as possible. On my first weekend I went to Ueno, Tokyo with Paul Jones and we explored Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree tower.


Sensō-ji Temple Asakusa.

Omika  Omika

On my second weekend I decided to go to Tokyo again and this time Miki Morifuji was kind enough to offer me to take to Kamakura, to see breath taking Temples and shrines during the day.

Omika  Omika

And in the evening, Shimura Akitoshi and Miki Morifuji took me for an amazing dinner in Shibuya and I was stunned to see the Shibuya crossing where thousands of people are crossing the road at the same time.  It was the busiest crossing I have ever seen in my life. The next day I visited Ginza area in Tokyo, where you can easily spend your year’s salary within hours on branded clothing and accessories, certainly the most expensive shopping district I have ever seen.

During my third and last week, I was invited by senior management in Omika to attend the annual ritual of going to shrine and praying for the prosperity for Hitachi during the year.

Our colleagues in Omika are definitely amazing hosts and they arranged a farewell dinner for me.


And then came my last Friday in Japan, when I visited the Omori office for a meeting and afterwards Satoko Fujimori invited me for lunch among other colleagues.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Japan, it was very interesting and educational from work perspectives. Our colleagues in Omika are excellent hosts and from day one they made me feel at home and supported me all the time at work and outside work and they made sure that I learned how to use Chopsticks (which I had learnt by end of my trip).


I would like to extend my special thanks and gratitude to all of our colleagues in Japan, who supported me throughout and made this trip extremely valuable.


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 


Everest Base Camp Trek


Mike Allen,  HICSE Test Manager, and his wife Karen have always wanted to return to Nepal after a short trek there before they had their children, so they decided to trek to Everest Base Camp while their knees are still up to the job!


Mike and Karen chose November/December as it’s out of the main season and clear weather, although getting a lot colder. Over 15 days Mike and Karen have trekked a circular route up to Gokyo lakes, the highest freshwater lakes in the world, crossing the Ngozumpo Glacier and over the daunting Cho La pass.  They have spent each night in different Tea houses, which are basically wooden huts heated by a Yak dung burning stove.  As soon as the fire burnt out (~20:00) temperature’s plummeted and everything froze solid, inside and out, so early nights were the norm. The challenge for them was although they do lots of walking, they have never been at high altitude (max 5545m) before, also they have never managed being without alcohol and meat for over 2 weeks :>(


Anyhow, it all went well, great part of the world and with lovely people.  It’s amazing the weight that the Sherpas carry (more than twice their body weight), as everything in the area is carried up by man or Yak.  They altitude turned out not to be too much of an issue, although most nights they only slept for a few hours and both lost 3 or 4 KG along the way.  To keep in contact with the family, Karen got Facebook and then went a step further by opening a just giving page for Cancer Research UK and raising over £300. 


If you would like to donate to Cancer Research UK, please visit


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!


Lights, Camera, Action!


Recently, HICSE has been working closely with a brand and communications company called Reggie London to create a new corporate film which can be used in the HICSE Bradford on Avon office reception and at exhibitions just to name a couple of places.

Following a couple of workshops with Reggie London and a few of the HICSE employees, Reggie put together a story board which represents Hitachi and the rail industry.

The short film is going to feature a women who just wants to travel from A to B.  She is not bothered about what is going on behind the scenes and all of the people and the technology that is working together to get her to her final destination.

Denise Watkins and Claire Connell travelled to London for a casting session to find the lucky women to appear in the HICSE film.  We saw 9 different women who did a short demonstration of what they had to offer where we managed to decide who was going to be out actress for the film.

Actress chosen, it was then time to start filming at our chosen locations.  We started filming in our Derby office using the Model Office hardware and then travelled just down the road to the East Midlands Control Centre to do some more filming there.


The filming then moved back down to London where our actress, Munirih, played her part.  Starting at London Bridge station then moving to the Hitachi Rail North Pole Depot in London to film the final part.

All we have to do now is wait until the New Year to see the final film once Reggie London have completed their edits and put all the shots together with the voiceover so we have something to look forward to.


CSR in Action


Written by Matthew Diggle, TM Engineering Manager

Following the recent announcements about the Hitachi Corporate Social Responsibility policy I thought I'd give it a try. A while ago some friends told me about a charity that offers sailing trips to a range of groups of different ages and from varied backgrounds. They found that marine environment helped with the groups as it is unusual and so becomes a “leveller”; almost everyone is a “beginner” and so pre-existing hierarchies are broken. It also provides a sense of adventure and excitement that appeals to some (particularly young male) people who might otherwise be difficult to attract. I've sailed a bit myself and I enjoy helping people learn and develop, so I thought that this was, perhaps, something I could get involved with.

I got in touch with the charity and they offered me a place as a helper (possibly even a "responsible adult") on a five-day trip they were running as a Duke of Edinburgh Award residential course. They already had a skipper, first-mate and second-mate on board, and so I'd be third-mate, or maybe they said "third rate" I'm not sure. I also filled in the CSR form and got it approved, so the company donated two days of leave towards my time off.

It was a little daunting to head off to spend five days living with a whole group of people who I didn't know, in an unfamiliar (and quite cramped) environment, doing very different things from my usual routine. However, I needn't have worried as the other leaders were friendly and helped me settle-in before the young people arrived.

We had a group of seven young people aged 16, 17, and 18 on the trip, most of whom were working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. They had not met as a group before and many had no sailing experience. I found it interesting to watch how wary they were when they first arrived, some were quiet and shy, other full of bluster and show, but all rather uncertain about their place in the group and not sure what the next few days would hold. The other leaders, who had more experience of this sort of thing, helped everyone to get to know each other, partly by us all introducing ourselves and saying something that we knew a lot about. The skipper's specialist subject was, rather surprisingly, cows (apparently he's a vet in "real life") and mine, less surprisingly, was railway signalling. However, no one asked me anything about signalling during the rest of the trip, and as far as I know no one approached the skipper with an enquiry about animal ailments.

The boat, Morning Star, is 62 feet long and is slightly unusual in that the hull is made from concrete, but in other ways it's quite traditionally rigged and old-fashioned.

corporate social responsibility

It is actually designed to be hard to sail, so that the crew have to work together. For example hauling-in the main ropes requires two people, one “sweating” or pulling the rope and the other “tailing” or controlling it. Furthermore, most jobs require at least two ropes to be worked, so the rope teams have to co-ordinate their efforts. It’s impossible for one person to rush ahead, and in fact if they try it usually results in having to release the ropes and start again. Another challenge is the unfamiliarity of the tasks and terminology, so first of all everyone has to "learn the ropes", literally. They might all look much the same, but it is important to know which one does what and absolutely vital to know which are under tension and which are slack before untying them.

corporate social responsibility

I was impressed by the speed the young people picked up the basics of sailing the boat and the generous way they shared this knowledge if one of them was not certain what to do. By the end of the trip some of the more confident members of the group were allowed to lead activities, such as raising sails, with the leadership team merely observing and providing quiet guidance. The skipper must have thought that I'd learned a bit about the boat too, as he left me in charge as we sailed back across the Thames estuary at night, dodging big boats and sandbanks.

corporate social responsibility

The young people didn't just get involved with sailing activities, they also had to take turns with cooking and cleaning. In fact it was the challenges below decks that seemed to be more difficult for some of the crew to handle, and I had to teach one of the crew how to make instant coffee and to explain to another that “Earl Grey” is not ordinary tea. However, they all did their share without grumbling, and I was impressed that they took turns to volunteer to get up early to make breakfast, overcoming the stereotype of teenagers staying in bed.

As they left to go home it was great to see that seven individuals who had arrived five days earlier had become a tight-knit team, swapping email addresses and in some cases planning their next sailing trip together. Team building that might take several weeks in a work environment happened very quickly, and although this was an unusual environment there were certainly lessons for me to take away and apply in my normal life. For example, the leadership team had to employ different coaching, instructing, encouraging, and (at times) commanding styles, but teenagers do not, in general, put up with being patronised or bossed about so the styles we used always had to be appropriate to the situation and instructions had to be given clearly and in a manner that they could understand.

So overall, although it was physically challenging and, at times, rather uncomfortable, I really did enjoy the experience. The four leaders had to work together closely, which seemed to go well, and it was great fun to work with young people, full of energy and enthusiasm, and with a strong desire to learn new skills and fully participate in activities. In fact the only thing that didn't go well for me were the card games the young people played in the evening; the rules seemed arcane to start with and became increasingly complex as the night drew on until I didn't stand a chance of keeping up. Maybe next time I'll take a book to read instead!

corporate social responsibility

If you're interested in finding out a bit more about the boat and the charity their website is and someone took some drone footage of us off the Walton on the Essex coast which you can watch on YouTube here: Morning Star Trust or by searching for "Morning Star Trust Walton".


Cycling for The Wiltshire Air Ambulance


HICSE's chosen charity has been The Wiltshire Air Ambulance for the last couple of years and recently, one of our Senior Software Engineers decided to take part in a bike ride in aid of the charity.

Here is Bryan's story:

"I took part in the Wiltshire Air Ambulance "Big Wheel" 45 mile bike ride on the 17th of September.

The Air Ambulance is run entirely on donations from the public and their service really does save lives.  They have specialist equipment on-board, not carried by road ambulances, meaning that they are able to help stabilise patients before being transferred to hospital.  In fact they are more like a mobile ITU than an ambulance.

Please help me raise much needed funds for this worth while cause.  They need just under £9000 per day to keep flying.

Recently, at my son's school, the Air Ambulance was summoned to one of the young lads who had broken their arm very badly.  After the helicopter had landed in the school playing field, the on-board paramedics used their specialist skills and equipment to stabilise the lad.  Ultimately the lad was transferred to hospital using a traditional road ambulance.  He is now fine - all thanks to the Air Ambulance crew."

Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Bryan then explained how his day planned out:

"Starting off at 7:15am, the morning was very cold (a good job I had decided to put on the thermals then!).  I arrived in Devizes to start the 'official' 45 minute route about an hour later.  The official route was, for the most part, off of the main roads as it meandered its way through deepest darkest Wiltshire.

A good number of other riders were seen taking in the delights of Beechingstoke, Broad Street, Manningford Bohune, Pewsey, Crofton, Great Bedwyn and Marlborough.  One or two of my fellow riders suffered punctures.

The Crofton pumping station, with its magnificent steam drive Beam Engines, provided the first rest stop.  Unfortunately not in steam - but still well worth a visit.

Back to Devizes (3 hours 9 minutes), for tea and medals before the jaunt home."

Cycling for Charity

Bryan has managed to raise an amazing £290 and rising.  If you would like to sponsor Bryan and donate to The Wiltshire Air Ambulance, please click on the following link:

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance logo

For more information about the Air Ambulance, click the following link:


Back to the future with Oxford Team Ducati


Fresh from his 2017 TT campaign the 5th fastest rider in TT history secured a 2nd and two 4th places on the 37.73 mile course. James Hillier will be riding the Celeres Racing Ducati 888 that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Products TT campaign. In addition, to really authenticate this replica and with the support of Oxford Products, the bike has been painted in classic 1992/3 Oxford Products livery as used by Trevor Nation, Robert Dunlop and Mark Farmer.

The Ducati 888 was built last year by HICSE's Stafford Evans of Celeres Racing to compete in the 2016 Superbike F1 Classic TT race. Wearing Ducati red, the bike was ridden to 11th place by Dave Hewson with a best lap of 115.769mph. Modifications were made to an original 1991 road frame and an abundance of carbon fibre parts to replicate the original machines.
James will run race number 5 in 2017, the same number as Trevor Nation did 25 years ago and he will also wear replica leathers for the event. He was upbeat about his prospects. ‘I have a real ambition to win the Superbike race of course, but I will make every effort to be the fastest man around the Island on a Ducati 888.’

Team owner Stafford Evans was equally optimistic. ‘It’s a real honour to be able to reproduce the Oxford team of 25 years ago. I actually think that with this bike and with James at the ‘bars, we have a real shot at bringing home the top prize. I am very excited!’
Hillier is no stranger to the TT course visiting the rostrum multiple times including a Lightweight TT win in 2013 and the in 2014, he came 2nd in the F1 Classic TT, the best of his 10 races at the classic event. It’s time for the top step!

You will find a video on our Facebook page