Siemens-Invensys Rail a year on

Almost exactly a year ago, Siemens confirmed its acquisition of Invensys Rail, and at the time we said we thought it was a good merger for both parties. A year on, are those expectations really being met?

With any corporate acquisition there are always fears of job losses, and there is no question that there have been cuts at Invensys Rail. Ascertaining the precise figure is  challenging, but it appears that the majority of those job losses were in administration and management functions duplicated at Siemens rather than in the critical engineering and design posts that represented so much of Invensys Rail’s strength.

Any expectations of a ‘smash and grab’ raid by Siemens on Invensys Rail’s product range and intellectual property remain unrealised too. Recruitment across Siemens’ Mobility and Logisitics division is, we are told, rising in key markets, though the ongoing shortage of signalling engineers (an issue we shall be looking at very soon in more detail) remains a challenge. Furthermore, in Spain, where the Dimetronic operation was vastly bigger than Siemens’ own presence in Iberia, it’s Siemens’ operation which has been absorbed into the Invensys Rail one – quite the opposite of most takovers.

Siemens continues to win signalling deals, and with Westrace interlockings planned for countries such as Kazakhstan where Invensys Rail had little if any market presence, the synergies expected from the product ranges and key markets of both companies may well be coming to fruition.

The integration of Invensys Rail into Siemens remains a huge challenge for both companies, and realistically it’s likely to be 18 months to two years after the acquisition that major results will be clear. Nonetheless, it appears so far that the merger is proving broadly successful.

The challenge for Siemens is now to make the most of its signalling division’s vastly expanded scale.

Siemens-Invensys Rail acquisition will be good for rail

Now that the European Commission has approved Siemens’ USD 2.8 billion takeover of Invensys Rail, we can properly assess the potential of this deal and its impact on railway signalling overall. We should point out that this is very much a personal opinion on the acquisition, and in no way reflects the views of anyone in either company.

Over the past 13 years I’ve reported on signalling developments and projects from both companies and seen their strengths in operation first hand. Siemens and Invensys Rail share a policy of innovation, technical excellence and have consistently delivered on their promises. And I think that Siemens’ acquisition of Invensys Rail is a very good move for both companies for three reasons.

Firstly, Invensys Rail’s product portfolio complements Siemens very neatly. The company’s interlockings, CBTC and ERTMS offerings have very little overlap with those of Siemens, filling slightly different niches and needs. Its LYRA ERTMS onboard equipment, for example, represents a genuine breakthrough in minimising the space required for retro-fitment in particular, and its range of interlocking equipment is future-proof, service proven and extremely reliable – to name two high-profile examples.

Secondly, the markets each company serves are different. Invensys Rail has historically been particularly strong in the United Kingdom, Spain and Australasia – and has made huge inroads into the increasingly lucrative Middle Eastern region. Of course Siemens has a presence in these regions but it won’t be cannibalising its own biggest markets.

Finally, Siemens will give Invensys Rail’s products the global scale and reach to bring their undoubted benefits to many more countries. With Siemens’  operations worldwide it will be more feasible than ever to establish Invensys Rail’s best products without the cost of setting up new offices and bid teams.

The details of how Siemens will integrate Invensys Rail are – obviously – unclear at this early stage, but given the harmony between the two companies’ ranges, it’s almost impossible to conclude other than that the signalling sector, and railways all over the world could benefit hugely from the acquisition.

High Speed to the future

High-speed rail has had a sizzling few days, with the UK’s announcement of its planned network and the submission of bids to build the first 29 miles of California’s high-speed rail network on January 25.

Neither project is without controversy, with opponents and supporters making their cases in loud and often unsubstantiated fashion. Given that neither country has much experience with high-speed rail, it’s instructive to look at the independent study Invensys Rail commissioned into the benefits of high-speed rail not too long ago.

The key findings – based on proven global experience – are that high-speed rail offers proven lower journey times, reduced congestion on other modes, better access to markets and commerce, lower carbon footprint compared with road and air travel, and proven creation of industrial growth and export opportunities.

The report is essential reading for anyone with an interest in high-speed rail – even the biggest sceptics are likely to be surprised by its global success.

Invensys Rail engineer wins apprenticeship award

A graduate of Invensys Rail’s apprentice scheme has won a prestigious award in the United Kingdom for her efforts in promoting apprenticeships to young people.

Jamie Leigh Clayton was  named Apprentice Champion of the Year in the regional final of the UK’s National Apprenticeship Awards 2012. She completed an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering with Invensys Rail in 2010 and is now an Assistant Designer with the company. She also champions apprenticeship programmes at schools and events, sharing her experiences and encouraging others to see an apprenticeship as a worthwhile career move.

Divisional Area Director for the South from the National Apprenticeship Service Dr John Chudley said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jamie-Leigh on this superb achievement. She is a testament to the many benefits apprenticeships bring to businesses, allowing employers to tap into new raw talent, up-skill their staff and grow.”

UK minister supports Invensys Rail’s expansion

Norman Baker inspects a simulation of the new Victoria Line train control system on Invensys Rail´s stand at InnoTrans on September 19.

Companies like Invensys Rail are at the heart of the United Kingdom’s rapidly growing rail sector, said Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Transport Norman Baker on Invensys Rail’s stand at InnoTrans 2012 today.

Mr Baker was being shown the many successful UK companies exhibiting at the world’s biggest rail fair by the Director-General of the Railway Industry Association Jeremy Candfield. The minister’s remarks follow a remarkable period for Invensys Rail, which has recently secured export orders from Turkey worth GBP 176 million and Saudi Arabia to the value of GBP 260 million for the Makkah to Madinah high-speed rail project.

During his tour of the Invensys Rail stand, he saw a demonstration of the newly completed Victoria Line Control Centre, which played a critical role in transporting thousands of spectators and athletes to the London 2012 Games.

“The coalition government is very supportive of manufacturing and particularly supportive of the rail sector. It’s important for it to grow both for economic and environmental reasons, which is why we’re investing in the biggest rail enhancement programme since the 19th century,” he said.

Invensys Rail CEO Kevin Riddett added: “We are pleased that the minister made time in his busy schedule to see the Invensys rail stand and to recognise the export achievement of Invensys Rail and it’s track record of innovation and excellence, particularly in the field of intelligent railway signalling and train control.”

TCDD boss visits Invensys Rail


TCDD at InnoTrans

Mr Suleyman Karaman Director General of the TCDD operates the ERTMS
simulator on the Invensys Rail stand at Innotrans in Berlin.

Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Director General Mr Suleyman Karaman was yet another high-profile visitor to Invensys Rail’s stand at InnoTrans on September 18, meeting key members of the company’s technical and commercial teams responsible for delivering a series of major projects in Turkey.

With progress continuing on the ambitious Marmaray Project – the world’s first dual installation of ERTMS and CBTC – Mr Suleyman Karaman tried his hand on Invensys Rail’s high-tech ERTMS Level 2 simulator, which offers a virtually experience to that which train drivers will have when the Marmaray Project goes live.

Invensys Rail receives Royal visit

HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Meshal Al Saud (centre) meets Invensys Rail Regional Director Middle East, North Africa and Turkey Ala Ghanem (right) and Invensys Rail Dimetronic Export Area Manager Oscar Martinez Marchante (left) at InnoTrans in Berlin on September 18 2012. Credit: Paul Bigland.

Invensys Rail received a special and prestigious royal visit on the on the opening day of InnoTrans in Berlin on September 18 2012. His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Meshal Al Saud met representatives of Invensys Rail on their stand and was give a personal demonstration of the company’s European Rail Traffic Management System equipment, which is being installed on the Haramain high-speed rail project between Makkah and Madinah.



Intelligent Signalling – live @InnoTrans

The world’s biggest railway exhibition is opening today and will be reporting live from the Invensys Rail stand at InnoTrans (Hall 4.2, stand 205) on all the latest developments and news.

We’ll be updating twice a day at lunchtime and at the end of the day, and you can follow our live Twitter feed – #railsignals – for the latest updates.




Gearing up for InnoTrans

Crowds at InnoTrans 2010

InnoTrans 2012 is set to be the biggest and most spectacular rail exhibition yet.

With less than a week to go the whole world’s rail industry is gearing up for InnoTrans in Berlin, and signalling and train control are set to play a major part in the show.

As ERTMS/ETCS and Positive Train Control are now at a much greater level of technical maturity than even at 2010’s exhibition, it seems likely that the focus of signalling and train control suppliers will be on incremental improvements to existing product ranges, and on their mix of services. We can also expect progress on the latest and most challenging metro, conventional and high-speed rail projects to play a major part in company presentations.

As one would expect, the world’s major companies are there – including sponsor Invensys Rail – all showcasing their latest developments. A larger than ever array of Asian exhibitors will be there too, capitalising on the strong growth in rail services across the continent. will be blogging live from InnoTrans throughout the show to highlight the best in signalling technologies: keep abreast of developments via the webpage, or our twitter feed at railsignals.

Training the next generation of signalling engineers

We often hear of the skills shortage parts of the rail industry faces in certain areas – but far less frequently are the successes mentioned. The most recent that we’re aware of is the recognition of two Invensys Rail apprentices  by the UK’s Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Jamie-Leigh Clayton joined Invensys on a three year apprenticeship scheme in 2007 and since then, she became the first Invensys engineer to be awarded EngTech, a professional Engineering Technician qualification, and went on to win  at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards in 2011. So successful has been her career progress that Invensys Rail’s development programme is now receiving plaudits from beyond the rail sector, where it is already highly regarded.

Meanwhile, at Invensys Rail’s Glasgow, UK regional office, apprentice Gerry Clarke is continuing his development towards and is  working towards professional engineer status. The IET recently visited Gerry and were said to be impressed by “the impressive levels of support which mentors and senior managers give to apprentices” at Invensys Rail.

With the roll out of ERTMS likely to accelerate in Europe, the skills of engineers like Jamie-Leigh and Gerry are going to become increasingly valued.