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1996 - July - Aitken - Outsourcing of Communications Netw 1996 - July - Aitken - Outsourcing of Communications Networks

John Aitken

Director, Aitken & Partners Consulting Engineers

Outsourcing of services is a concept that has the virtues of political correctness and fashion. It is certainly not a new concept but outsourcing has become a popular answer to all manner of corporate ills. Its current significance is perhaps not unrelated to some of the spectacular corporate failures of the 1980s when short term gains were the objective of many an entrepreneur. The current reaction appears to be an emphasis on "core business" activities, with those activities that are not considered essential to the core business being "outsourced".

Some would argue that communications are not core business for railways and that they should have been outsourced long ago. Others will argue that connnunications are the very life blood of a modern railwa? -- as integral a part of the operation as the track, locomotives. rolling stock and signals.

In this paper we consider the role of communications in railway operations. the impact of historical developments, the impact of developing technology and the impact of legislation on railway communications. There are some areas where outsourcing is a natural and obvious step, some areas where outsourcing would achieve nothing and others where outsourcing has been In place for a long time. The common characteristic is that they provlde cominunications for trains that move on steel wheels on steel tracks.


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