Rail Industry Focus

01.06.12

4,500 visitors at Infrarail 2012

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Jun/Jul 2012

Adam Hewitt reports from Infrarail 2012, which had over 4,500 visitors from 36 different countries, as well as 212 exhibitors.

Infrarail 2012 pulled in visitors from across the UK and around the world, eager to see the latest innovations in rail infrastructure technology and hear from some of the industry’s leading figures.

New features The Yard and The Platform were well received and there was good attendance at the technical seminars. Exhibition manager Heidi Cotsworth said: “The positive and supportive feedback we received during Infrarail and remarks made since indicate that this was a very successful event for everyone taking part.”

Among many talks and debates was a discussion of the new Birmingham Interchange for HS2, which will be built near the NEC exhibition centre where Infrarail was held. Ian Taylor of Marketing Birmingham explained how it would help “redefine the function of a station”, while Paul Watson, strategic director for regeneration and development at Solihull council, said the key concept was walkability.

Alex Burrows of Centro said the new interchange would have a huge impact on jobs and the economy, and would help get people out of their cars, as long as it was linked in properly with local rapid transit systems. John Morris, a senior executive at Birmingham Airport and a pro-HS2 campaigner, said the high-speed line plus the interchange would help attract people to the Midlands from the south east.

Howard Smith, who runs London Rail at TfL, gave a detailed talk in his usual enthusiastic style on the changes to London’s rail network heralded by London Overground and the ‘orbital’ rail link, and what will happen during the Olympics. He was also full of praise for the sometimes overlooked 25-year-old DLR, which he noted actually makes an operating surplus, and an increasing one.

Martin Fleetwood from the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport gave a progress report since the McNulty review, noting that of Sir Roy’s recommendations, the ones that were furthest along tended to be the ones over which the DfT had direct control – which is ironic since the report concluded that changes should be industry-led. He also noted the tensions between two key trends: standardisation and devolution.

Rail Champions hosted two interactive Platform Sessions, one on innovation and one on collaboration – for more on these events, see page 88.

Rail minister Theresa Villiers detected a mood of optimism at the event and in the industry, and said the Government had “broken the typical pattern” of cutting rail investment when the economy was suffering. She outlined what was being spent where, and discussed refranchising, smart ticketing and the efficiency challenge. She lamented the lack of women in rail and described some of the things being done about it – which People 1st also discuss in our interview on page 28. On the supply chain, she said: “Part of our strategy for successful delivery of [HS2] involves developing the expertise of British and UK-based firms to compete for HS2 contracts… our priority must be to develop the home-grown skills.”

David Thomasson of Axis Communications generated interest with his demonstration of what modern security cameras are capable of in the field of real-time surveillance, with very long-distance high-resolution zoom, thermal detection and low-light optimisation techniques that make night look exactly like day.

There was an interesting debate on skills and training involving NSARE’s Gil Howarth and Pete Waterman, and Paul Cooper, chair of the Young Railway Professionals. There is a full report at www.nsare.org

Network Rail’s Simon Kirby was among the most eagerly-anticipated speakers, and pulled in a huge crowd – see here for his message to the supply chain.

The RTM team was there too, as always, showcasing the magazine, our rtmjobs.com rail jobsite and engaging with our readers and advertisers. We will also be at Railtex 2013, which will take place at Earls Court in London from 30 April to 2 May 2013.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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