Exclusive Interview with Mr. Carmine Zappacosta , CEO of Italcertifer






Rail Analysis India : Could you please brief us about your background and how did you start in the Railway industry ?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : I received the master’s degree (M.S.E.E.) and Ph.D (“Energy, Electrical and Thermal – Energetica, Elettricae Termica”) degree from the Electrical Engineering Faculty of the University of Pisa in 2004 and 2009, respectively and I started my career in 2008 as a temporary Research Assistant at the Department of Electrical Systems and Automation, University of Pisa.

My research interests included the field of experimental characterization and modeling of magnetic materials, analysis and measurement of fast electromagnetic transients, characterization and modeling of nonlinear shields, and high current pulses sensor like Rogowski coil.

I became Italcertifer’s CEO and General Manager on September 16th 2016, before assuming this position, I’ve been working since 2012 as Expert in Electrical Systems, Electromagnetic Compatibility and Risks Analysis. I was Italcertifer’s CSM and Testing Authority Manager, roles with which I have actively contributed to various projects including in particular the one relating to the HS vehicle certification Frecciarossa ETR1000 up to speed of 350 km/h, with on Line tests up to speed of 400 km/h.

Rail Analysis India : We believe that the Italian Railways is one of the finest in the world, what are the main reasons for its success? And what is the role of Italcertifer in this path?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : Certainly, at this point, the Italian State Railways have been among the “small world club” of the Railway Companies that offer High Speed Services. At the end of the 80s FerroviedelloStato (FS) activated 250 kmph speed services with the first series of Pendolino trainsets (ETR450) and in 2005 it put in operation new 300 kmph speed railway lines.

To this day in Italy there are more than 1,400 km of HS rail lines and about 400 km more are under construction or in project. High-Speed rail must be considered a great achievement for its high quality and safety , its punctuality, the frequency of trains and the continuous increasing of the number of passengers, and their satisfaction is a proof of this.

As the only country in the world, Italy also settled the conditions for the creation of a High-Speed Rail Market and a private Company is circulating with its own trains, in competition with the State Railways company. Since the first concept stages of the new 300 kmph lines, Italcertifer has dealt with all the activities concerning verification and certification of the design, compliance of the “as built” system with the design, put in service tests, and the supervision on safety activities. These activities have been accomplished and certified for all the sub-systems of Mr. Carmine Zappacosta :the network and for the trainsets as well.

The experience of Italcertifer in this sector has meant that all of its competences have been used in other projects concerning HS Rail systems around the world, for example in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the USA, this last in cooperation with the International Union of Railways (UIC – Union Internationale des Chemins de fer).

Rail Analysis India : As you have been working for so long with different world class companies from the Railways, what are the biggest challenges you faced and what are your greatest achievements ?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : At the beginning the most important challenges are about making suppliers and customers to realize that certification is not a formal and optional aspect that can be carried out at the end of the planning or at the completion of the system but, on the contrary, it acts as a warranty of conformity and safety assessment provided by an independent and competent actor and it must be started at the beginning of the system planning to avoid errors, inefficiencies, and risks.

In European Union these concepts have been set as mandatory by the Directives and Regulations of the Railway Sector and they have allowed the development of safe and efficient HS networks in the whole continent in a relatively short time.

The most important results is given us by our customers and the relevant Authorities, and it’s the recognition of the added value of our contribution to the compliance of the system with its specifications and its own safe put into service and operation.

Rail Analysis India : Can you please highlight some of the remarkable features of the certification of Italian high speed rail compared with the rest of the world ?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : The Italian High-Speed Rail System has actually some peculiarities that have distinguished it from the comparable systems in the rest of the world. We can list some of these peculiarities, in addition to the above-mentioned opening to the commercial competition of the HS lines to different railway undertakings:

Interconnectivity: since its origins, HS Rail network has been designed to be constructed and put in service into operational sections, each of them connected to the conventional railway system, so allowing its use from the first stages of activation not only to the High-Speed Trains but also to other kinds of trains.

Use of Level 2 ERTMS signaling system without back-up devices and without physical lateral signaling along the line. It was the first real full-scale application in the world.

Creation of the crossing of highly mountainous areas with a dedicated HS line. In fact the Florence-Bologna HS railway line is almost 80 km long and 93% of it is under tunnels.

This perspective has created an uncommon competence for this kind of High-Speed lines in tunnels, both for the design and construction phases both for the management of the safe circulation

The “consensus management of the territory”: in Italy HS railroads have been built seeking the maximum agreement from the populations and local administrations living and working in the crossed territories, also pointing out different forms of reimbursement or compensation for their own benefit in case of possible negative effects caused by the new infrastructures.

We believe that we have made great efforts on this perspective and that we have obtained important benefits for the whole community.

Rail Analysis India : Safety is of Prime concern to the Indian government. In the role of CEO ITALCERTIFER what are the possible opportunities that you can see in India as the government of India is very bullish on the railway modernization?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : We, as Italcertifer, feel perfectly the concern of the Indian Government about the role of safety in railway. The railway market in India is growing in an impressive way and it represents, for us, a fertile ground in which we can sow the sprout of Safety. Italcertifer is definitively interested in all the railway and metro projects in which we can demonstrate the large experience of our engineers.

Rail Analysis India : It is estimated that by the year 2030, India would be the third largest economy in the world, What do you think about our Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi’s Vision about modernization of Railways in India ?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : We agree on that vision and considering the speed of growth we felt in the railway market, I strongly think that the target indicated by Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi will be perfectly reached on time by the Country.

Rail Analysis India : In the role of CEO ITALCERTIFER mention what are the projects in which Italian Railways is working or planning to work with the Indian Railways ? What are your plans for it ?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : The Indian government has among its objectives: the upgrading of existing infrastructure, in terms of speed and, above all, safety in freight corridors and rail and metropolitan passenger transport, as well as the development of new conventional and HS lines and Stations.

Local governments are also working to equip the main cities with an efficient underground and rail transport network. The FS Group is very interested in actively participating in the Indian renovation plan, including through the analysis, design, raising of the security levels of the Indian network and the realization of an HS line.

In this context, Italcertifer’s interest is directed towards the certification of the new Indian lines, both conventional and HS, and of the technologies based on the SIL 4 system. Don’t forget that we are already working as Independent Safety Assessment of Signalling

works of Bhaupur-Khurja Section of Eastern DFC Project -1 and as Independent Safety Assessment Services for Signalling System including TPWS of Phase-I (Rewari – Makarpura) of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and Signalling Generic Products.

Rail Analysis India : Anything more that you think you would like to tell our readers?

Mr. Carmine Zappacosta : I would like to tell to all the readers of your prestigious journal that modernization in transportation MUST take place only having SAFETY principles as his foundation. Definitively, we feel the ownership in being ambassador for the Safety in this beautiful Country.