Speakers of the 9th edition (2024)

Howard Smith

COO, London Rail, Elizabeth Line

Howard Smith

Howard Smith is currently Director of London’s brand-new Elizabeth line. He studied at the London School of Economics before working in operational railway roles in London. Hward was involved in planning and operating international rail services through the UK-France Channel Tunnel before joining Transport for London. There he has led the significant expansion of light rail, the creation of the orbital London Overground service, the delivery of the Emirates Airline - London’s first cable car, and was one the transport leaders for the London 2012 Olympic Games. From 2013 he was Chief Operating Officer of the Crossrail Project which was renamed the Elizabeth line ahead of its royal opening in May 2022.

Howard Smith has 36 years experience working mainly on major rail projects in the UK, including Channel Tunnel services between the UK, France and Italy, the Senior Leadership Team for Transport for the London 2012 Olympics and, for the last decade, the Crossrail Project, which became the Elizabeth line when it was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in May 2022.

The Elizabeth line is the new world-class metro in London built at a cost of c£18bn and stretching for over 120km across London from East to West. It includes 21km of brand new tunnels across the centre of London. Since it opened in May, traffic has grown rapidly and customers now make over 3.5m journeys every week. It has won awards and received visitors and delegations from all over the world.

The concept goes back over 75 years but work on the project in it’s modern form started just after the millennium. A Bill to authorise the powers for the railway went through Parliament in 2008 and construction started in 2010. After a successful tunnelling phase with 12 tunnel drives completed, and the civil engineering aspects of stations largely complete, the project teams had great challenges in integrating the railway and bringing it into operational use. After a missed deadline in 2018 most of the Executive team were changed and the project subsequently became a case study in integrating and commissioning a mega-project and putting it into successful passenger service.

Since 2013, Howard Smith has been responsible for the operational concept and delivery of the railway aspects of the project - including two multi-billion-pound contracts for the seventy trains and for day-to-day operations. Following the challenges in 2018, he was (alongside Mark Wild, Crossrail CEO) part of the three-person project leadership who worked to bring the railway into service. He is now completing the final phases, connecting up the railway end-to-end.

Over the past few years, Smith has received top-level delegations visiting Crossrail. He has travelled to North America, Asia, the Middle East and Australasia to share experiences of major projects. He has also chaired International Benchmarking Groups, comparing experience from railways across the globe as well as Conferences such as Africa Rail. He also Chaired the UK Chartered Institution of Railway Operators, the professional body for rail operators.


[4th Day]3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
Panel Discussion: Giga-projects PM

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