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Railtex closes with focus on railway business opportunities

The biggest Railtex for more than a decade ended yesterday with a big emphasis on ways for the rail supply chain to get involved in major infrastructure projects.

Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme and HS2 commercial director Beth West both outlined the huge amount of business in the pipeline.

Wolstenholme explained that Crossrail is now 36% complete, but it is still ramping up to its busiest point next year, when nearly 15,000 people will be employed on the project. Overall, he said, there are 75,000 business opportunities associated with Crossrail, of which 58% should go to SMEs, 43% outside London, and 95% from the UK.

West told a large crowd in the Project Update Theatre that the HS2 website will soon be updated with a ‘suppliers’ tab giving rail businesses more opportunity to start getting involved and gearing up to bid for contracts. There are also a huge amount of property development opportunities, she said.

Other speakers on the final day included Andrea Parker of Network Rail and Adrian Terry from Thales Training & Consultancy explaining their partnership to improve leadership and management skills within Network Rail’s Infrastructure Projects division.

The Project Update Theatre boasted a wide range of informative seminars and presentations throughout the show, including updates on London Underground’s sub-surface signalling upgrade – featured in the April/May edition of RTM – improving the environmental performance of rolling stock, and Hitachi’s preparations for the IEP programme.

Network Rail chairman Richard Parry-Jones had started day two off with a talk on innovation and transformation, urging railway businesses to stop coming up with “excuses” about why things can’t be done – but instead just do it. His main message was the urgent need to improve asset reliability, saying it is too complacent to just accept things like point failures as a fact of life considering the huge effect they have on passengers and satisfaction with the railway.

Comparing the situation to other transport industries, such as aviation and the automotive sector, he said engineers are perfectly capable of building systems and parts that never fail.

Many of the day’s seminars and talks were been packed out with eager audiences, including Telent on remote condition monitoring, Network Rail’s head of energy Peter Dearman on the ramping up of electrification projects, and Siemens on the way collaboration can transform services and technologies to everyone’s advantage.

Transport minister Simon Burns opened the show on Tuesday calling it an “important exhibition” and noted that in a digital age, face-to-face meetings were vital. He said there were bound to be ideas sparked and business relationships founded at the show.

He praised the Enabling Innovation Team and NSARE’s new SkillsID system, and said the Government’s new approach to franchising provides the sort of transparency and stability that the market is looking for.

Stephen Brooks, chairman of event organisers Mack Brooks, said the event was the biggest since 1997, with numbers up on the last show in 2011. He said there are 436 companies exhibiting from 17 countries, making it “truly an international event”.

Railway Industry Association (RIA) director general Jeremy Candfield also spoke at the opening ceremony, describing the enthusiasm of the rail industry and the supply chain to meet the needs of the future railway.

A number of product launches were announced throughout the three days of the show, which will be covered in detail in the next edition of Rail Technology Magazine.

Thank you to all the RTM readers, contributors and advertisers who came to visit us on our stand over the course of the event – we look forward to seeing you again soon!

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