Kawtar Hadjadj

“Rail is exciting and innovative …There are so many opportunities to do new things.”
Woman working at computer screen
Woman working at computer screen

Senior Rail Consultant, Systra Group  

Background: Robotics Engineer 

“When you’re outside the rail sector, there’s a tendency to think of trains as boring. But once you start working in rail you realise how hi-tech the industry is. And how many exciting and innovative jobs you can do.   

I studied robotic engineering in France and took my first job in rail because I wanted some stability in my career. I also wanted a career that aligned with my ethics and helped to improve and build communities. In Paris, the Metro system has been life-changing for so many people.   

After six years working with French rail operators and Hitachi, I started looking for a job outside Europe. France already has high speed rail and automatic train operation. So much has been done, there is less opportunity to innovate.  

In Australia today governments are making huge investments in rail. There are so many opportunities to do new things using lessons learned from Europe. It’s an amazing position to be in.  

I took a job as a consultant with Systra in Sydney five years ago. We supply technical advice for clients such as Queensland Rail, Transport for NSW, Alstom – anyone who has a technical challenge that needs a solution.  

My favourite projects are helping to improve the interoperability of trains between systems.  

In Australia, rail systems are managed by different states and networks. The different jurisdictions are developing smart systems which will eventually see all signals removed from the tracks. Instead, the trains and systems will have to “talk” to each other using GPS and advanced telecommunications such as 4G or 5G. Currently, some of these systems are not interoperable.  

We’re supporting the development of a solution which will help the systems interact.   

At the moment, my role is very technical. Eventually I’d like to be part of the decision-making process to introduce technology that I know from experience really works.  

My goal is to help create greener, more efficient transport systems.   

Aviation and cars are super polluters. I’d like more Australian to have the opportunity to use public transport and be able to choose fast rail over planes.”