Latest Rail News

07.11.14

A fantastic night at the High Speed 2 The Northern Hub Dinner

More than 650 people from across the rail industry gathered in Manchester last night for RTM’s High Speed 2 The Northern Hub dinner to hear from the people leading those projects, to contribute to a lively panel session on rail connectivity in the north, and to network and socialise into the early hours.

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The black tie dinner was an extremely busy and friendly event, and attracted attention across the country, including at the highest levels – the chancellor, George Osborne, addressed the crowd in a video message from the Treasury, congratulating the hard work of those in the audience and explaining his plans for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

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Keynote speeches by HS2 managing director for development Alison Munro and Network Rail’s LNW route director Jim Syddall set the scene and outlined both the huge amounts of work available and the challenges and opportunities ahead, before they joined other guests for a Q&A panel session, chaired entertainingly and insightfully by the evening’s host, BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott.

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That panel session also featured Jon Lamonte, chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester; Nick Donovan, director of First TransPennine Express; Charlie Cornish, group chief executive at Manchester Airport; and Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail. Question topics included skills, rolling stock, HS2 station siting, the planning process, the new Transport for the North body, the customer experience for passengers on the north’s rail network, and getting more women into railway engineering.

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Paul Hanafin, of champagne reception sponsor Royal HaskoningDHV, said the reason the company wanted to be involved was “demonstrated by the response of the delegates, the panel, the speakers”. He said: “We’re clearly at a very important stage in the infrastructure development of the country as a whole, and the north in particular, and we here at Royal HaskoningDHV are delighted to have been involved in this event.”

You can read more from Paul Hanafin in the current edition of RTM.

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(Above: Royal HaskoningDHV's Henry Rowe addressing the champagne reception before the dinner)

Noel Dolphin of Furrer and Frey told us the event was “a great chance to meet with people from the around the industry and further raise our profile”.

Keith Riley, operations director for Lundy Projects, said: “It’s a great opportunity for us to network with people, to meet people we’ve worked with over the years, explain to them what we’re doing, how our company is growing and changing to meet demand – particularly in the area of electrification.”

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Simon Iwnicki, professor of railway engineering at the University of Huddersfield and chair of the IMechE rail division, said: “It’s a celebration of some of the biggest projects that are happening – this event is bringing people together, including some people who don’t normally meet like this.”

He also spoke of the skills shortage in the industry and the need for action now.

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Camlin Rail was the headline sponsor for the event.

Sue Whittall from Aspin Group said: “There are some really senior people at the tables to interact with, and it’s an amazing venue. When you come through the door, you just think: ‘wow’.”

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Chris Knight, business development manager, Siemens Rail Systems, said: “The evening’s gone very well: the panel answered some fairly tough questions and covered some interesting points. Clearly rolling stock is a key issue that everyone in the north is concerned about, and it’s obvious that our industry is aware of that. It’s something we needed to address. We’ve had a fun night here, sharing our table with the guys from FirstGroup, with whom we’ve got a great working relationship.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said we are living through “momentous times” and that he was thrilled that such an event was being hosted in Manchester at such a great point for the city and the region.

There will be much more coverage from the event in the next edition of Rail Technology Magazine and elsewhere on the website.

(Photography: Peter Alvey, Alvey & Towers)

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Comments

Iain   18/12/2014 at 21:47

All very nice; all very Manchester centric! What more evidence do we need that the "Northern Hub" means the "Manchester Hub", and that the"Northern Powerhouse" means Manchester. Why can't the government just admit this and stop patronising places like Liverpool and Newcastle with vague promises of rail links that will never happen?

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