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Insights In a career slump? Stay challenged and learning at any stage inside Atkins.

Meet Andrew Love. An Atkins Fellow, Technical Director and head of our Train Control and Signalling team at Nova North in London, he balances the three different strands of his role with confidence.

What are your current roles?

As Head of Train Control and Signalling, I lead a practice commercially and technically. We engage with technologies ranging from red and green lights on rusty posts by the side of the track to fully automated people-movers and new forms of mobility using the very latest technology.

As a Technical Director, I deliver challenging assignments for our clients worldwide. As an Atkins Fellow, I act as a focal point for the international technical community, championing professional development and encouraging excellence, innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration.

What has been your most memorable project inside Atkins?

I devised the solutions for many of London Underground's recent multi-disciplinary line upgrades. These included the Victoria Line Upgrade, where the service capacity was limited by the frequency at which trains could be reversed in two platforms at Brixton, the southern terminus.

Plans had already been drawn up for major civil works. The options all involved extensive, risky mining and the cheapest involved tunnelling several kilometres to form a "balloon loop." I realized that the constraint was an operating issue rather than a technology issue and that if the operators could change how they worked to reduce the time taken to reverse each train, none of the civil works would be necessary.

My proposals were initially brushed aside by the client, but we persisted. When the plans were shared with the frontline operators, they agreed that they could change their working practices, but only if we agreed to a long list of improvements to assist them in operating more efficiently. A quick look at the list showed that many of these improvements were rather sensible and covered factors that railway engineers hadn't previously considered but were significant for those operating the system.

We quickly determined that the entire wish list could be delivered for a tiny fraction of the cost of the major civil options under consideration. To our client's amazement, we agreed with the operators, and a deal was struck.

Brixton is now the most intensively used two-platform terminus in the world, reliably reversing more than 36 trains per hour. The staff relish the challenge of delivering that service every day. The factors that emerged in developing this solution are now well recognised and have informed many subsequent railway schemes, including Thameslink and Crossrail.

What's the community like at the London office?

We have an active social committee that organises various events. This allows us to get to know the people we're working with better, helps us meet people beyond our immediate team and discover the depth of the business' capabilities. Sometimes we find people who can assist with our work, and social discussions lead to more variety in the day job. As the London office is one of Atkins' larger offices, an extensive range of disciplines are represented at our social events.

Photo of Andrew and his team

How do you provide industry and thought leadership?

I encourage our team to take every opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership, including conference papers, publications and other ways of shaping industry trends rather than just following them. Personally, I regularly present at a range of international conferences, most recently on railway capacity, cybersecurity and resilience, and have a paper on the contribution of railway control systems to sustainability in progress.

I support our developing engineers in preparing for the Institution of Railway Signalling Engineers' professional examinations through study events. These are also open to the wider industry, which benefits all participants by providing a broader range of viewpoints in the discussion than could be achieved through internal participation alone.

I'm on the Institution's Education and Professional Development Committee, which leads the Institution's engagement with academia and training providers, sets the syllabus for professional examinations and develops new routes into the railway control industry.

I also sit on the managing committee of the Transport for London Technical Society. The organisation provides fabulous professional development opportunities to our staff directly related to the needs of one of our key clients.

Through our consultancy work, I've helped shape the long-term technical strategies for railways in several countries, both at government and system operator levels.

What do you find most rewarding about the job?

Training and mentoring. I'm very aware that available time limits what I can hope to achieve. If I can pass on skills to help others do what I can, that multiplies what I can achieve. There's every chance they'll be able to do a better job than I'd have done by combining my knowledge with their existing expertise and aptitudes.

"Objectively, there's a real "multiplier effect" where every hour I invest in training is paid back many times over by the increased capability of my colleagues, and subjectively, I love seeing what the people I've supported do with their new skills.”

What's your passion outside of work?

Other than family, it's sustainability and living lightly. Ten years ago, we bought a semi-derelict Victorian house and refurbished it to give environ-mental performance exceeding that of homes built to modern standards.

We carefully controlled the works to reduce our ongoing energy usage and minimize the energy embodied in the materials and the processes. Although this is still a work in progress—and always will be as we make incremental improvements—we regularly get asked for advice by others wishing to do it similarly. It's that multiplier effect again!

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