by The Australasian Railway Association (ARA)

Mark Donaldson VC knows a thing or two about leadership and resilience. The decorated former SAS soldier will be among the featured keynote speakers at the Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) expanded and fully online AusRAIL Live & On Demand conference in 2020.

Having dealt with the pressure of making decisions under fire, and the need to act in the face of uncertainty, his experience on the battlefield has yielded lessons that are equally applicable on the project site or in the boardroom.

He will join AusRAIL this year to talk about the value of leaders being agile in their decision-making, and why it is important for people to have the skills needed to deal with any outcome, including uncertainty.

It is a timely message as we prepare for a new year that will undoubtedly bring new opportunities for growth for those that can weather the uncertainty, and new challenges that we may encounter in a post-pandemic world.

But it is also a reflection of what we have already seen in the rail industry time and time again this year. Leaders have changed how they operate to keep delivering essential services – safely, efficiently and with their customers at the top of mind.

Frontline workers continue to head out into their communities to do their essential work, even as many of us ventured inwards.

New perspectives

People are dealing with uncertainty and change in everything they do, at home and at work. AusRAIL Live & On Demand is another example of opportunity from change.

Our move this year to a fully online format has allowed us to reach out to international speakers that may not have been able to join if we were meeting in person.

Delegates will get to hear from some of the top rail industry executives from across the globe, including Crossrail Chief Executive, Mark Wild, who is currently overseeing Europe’s largest infrastructure project.

With trials running on the project’s Elizabeth line expected to start next year, this is a good time to hear about the complexity of this major rail project, and the plans to bring the line into passenger service by 2022.

LA Metro Chief Innovation Officer, Joshua Schank, will talk about innovation and experimental program and policy, providing a new perspective on ways to move the industry forward.

Mr Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation is leading a range of projects that aim to provide faster, better options for passengers as part of a more responsive service that supports the creation of vibrant communities.

These are ambitious goals that will no doubt have parallels with innovation projects underway here in Australia. We will also hear from Grand Paris Express Project Director, Nicholas Massart, who will tell us how that project is transforming Paris into a more sustainable city.

Industry professional development

It is rare that you can access keynote addresses, ask questions and interact with speakers of this calibre directly from your home or office, but at AusRAIL Live & On Demand, delegates will have the chance to do just that.

This front row seat to presentations of the projects that are shaping the future of the industry globally is an unmatched professional development opportunity.

There are also plenty of ideas, insights and lessons from 2020 that are creating new opportunities for the industry right here in Australia and New Zealand.

AusRAIL Live & On Demand will provide more opportunities to hear from leaders of the region’s operators, contractors manufacturers and suppliers to provide a snapshot of the industry, its most innovative projects and initiatives and plans for the future.

In total, we have added 14 new streams to allow delegates to tailor their conference experience and access more content than ever before.

The Cross River Rail, Inland Rail and WA’s METRONET will all be showcased in a dedicated infrastructure projects stream to allow you to hear the latest on their progress.

Sustainability and accessibility streams will highlight how the industry is contributing to more vibrant cities and towns, delivering long-term benefits for the people that live in them.

For those working in freight and ports, dedicated sessions will provide greater insight on the implications of the National Rail Freight Action Plan for the sector, and share the latest updates on the implementation of the Advanced Train Management System.

Rail suppliers will hear more about the opportunities ahead, and the emerging technology that will shape our industry. Meanwhile, our passenger transport stream will reflect on how COVID-19 is changing passenger behaviours, now and in the future.

And virtual tours will take you behind the scenes of some of our most interesting rail operations, bringing you close to the action from the comfort of your home or office.

Like minded rail professionals

This is just a taste of the many streams on offer as part of AusRAIL’s expanded, three-day program for 2020. We are really pleased to be able to offer a program that will not just deliver more content than ever before, but will provide continuing access to content for up to six months after the event.

This will be a huge advantage for delegates, who can go back and reference presentations or specialist streams as they start new projects and initiatives in the new year.

The continuing value of AusRAIL’s offering this year, long after the event, simply cannot be underestimated. With delegates given early access to the platform, you can start your industry networking a full month before AusRAIL actually gets underway.

Log on in November to set up meetings with the exhibitors you want to connect with, and start your 1:1 video chats to find out more about their offering.

See which delegates have bookmarked the sessions you will attend as well to find like-minded people to enhance your networking over the course of the event and beyond.

The ARA looks forward to seeing the rail industry come together again at AusRAIL Live & On Demand. To register, go to

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