Rail Industry Focus

01.11.15

Industry comes together at Derby

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2015

Adam Hewitt reports from a great evening in Derby celebrating everything the rail industry has to offer.

The sixth Dinner at the Roundhouse was supported once again by RTM, bringing together industry professionals not just from the east Midlands but from around the UK. RTM joined 600 guests at the networking event and dinner, taking place in the stunning surroundings of the Roundhouse – once a busy maintenance depot, now an educational and events venue. The grade-II listed building, built in 1839, is the oldest surviving railway roundhouse in the world.

Guests mingled in the adjacent library for a busy champagne reception, and then took to their seats to hear first from rail minister Claire Perry MP. After a couple of obligatory jokes at the expense of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, Perry outlined the scale of the modernisation going on across the UK railway, and addressed the temporary ‘pause’ this summer of the Midland Main Line electrification. Knowing that this is a particularly pressing issue in Derby – which will not be reached by electrification until 2023, instead of 2019 as planned – Perry said the pause was necessary but has now ended. 

Dr Lutz Bertling, president of Bombardier Transportation, spoke next, issuing a warning to European rail manufacturers and the supply chain that “the Chinese are coming”. He bemoaned the fact that far eastern markets are so difficult for European firms to access, even as European countries allow investment the other way.

Bombardier was the headline sponsor of the Dinner, and Dr Bertling used his speech to emphasise that the future will depend on urban mobility and connectivity.

RTM Table

Adrian Shooter was next up, with anecdotes from his long career at British Rail, Chiltern Railways and other organisations, and a mention of his new venture – Vivarail, which is converting ex-London Underground D78 stock into the new D-Trains, designed as a cheap way of increasing capacity on branch lines. He also addressed the need to get more young talent into the industry.

After dinner, the audience was entertained with a captivating and often hilarious talk from the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, about his adventures in some of the world’s hottest, coldest, highest and most dangerous places.

Colin Walton, chair of the Derby & Derbyshire Rail Forum (DDRF), paid tribute to DDRF members Neil Harvey (who had been the organisation’s general manager alongside his role at Bombardier) and Dave Roberts, who died this year. The charity for the evening was Cardiac Risk in the Young, which was a cause that Harvey had passionately supported. Over £5,100 was raised during the evening.

Recognising the generosity of the industry, Andy Ridout, managing director of advance-TRS, told the story of the Everest Challenge that was launched at last year’s Dinner in aid of Railway Children and took place last March. Over £60,000 was raised by the 16 industry participants, who survived 12 gruelling days trekking 113km to Everest Base Camp.

Next year’s event will be held at the Roundhouse on Thursday 13 October 2016.

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