The Midlands Engine showcased the region’s capacity, capability and opportunities in the rail sector for the first time at Railtex last month.

The Midlands Engine partners, came together with DIT, The Rail Alliance and Rail Forum East Midlands to host an investors event to present the opportunities UK rail presents, with the Midlands as the perfect place to locate to for HS2 and the many other rail projects coming to the UK over the next 15 years.

Speakers at the event included Gordon Wakeford, MD of Siemens Mobility and Chair of the Rail Supply Group, Simon Rennie of NTAR (National Training Academy for Rail), Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE) and Nick Mallinson from WMG at the University of Warwick, presenting on very light rail and the proposed Revolution train.

The Midlands is a core part of the UK’s £7bn rail manufacturing industry that employs over 80,000 people across the country and helps drive the UK advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.  Over 600,000 people in the Midlands work in manufacturing, delivering over 21% of the UK’s annual manufacturing output. Led by companies such as Bombardier, Siemens and Atkins, the region is home to the UK’s largest rail cluster and offers huge supply chain opportunities.

The region is at the heart of new UK rail projects including the £55bn HS2 rail network, mainline electrification, station redevelopments and extensions to light railway networks, along with the expansion of rail freight infrastructure. Overall the UK is investing in excess of £100bn in rail projects across the country. This makes the UK an attractive place to locate for overseas companies active in rail, and the Midlands, given its location and strong rail cluster, is the ideal location in the UK to invest in.

Gordon Wakeford of Siemens, said: 

“As chair of the RSG it was a pleasure to speak on behalf of the Midlands Engine at Railtex.  The UK has a vibrant and thriving rail sector and is something of which we can be proud, however we also recognise that there is a lot more that we can offer.  The Midlands Engine plays a huge role in the development of UK plc’s rail sector.  It is home to a young and well educated population and to many OEMs, universities and consultancies. The region is a great demonstrator of why investing in the rail industry has a direct influence on the development of our young people.”

Paul Francis, Chair of Rail Forum East Midlands and MD of Porterbrook Leasing, said: 

“Midlands Engine has the potential to provide a strong collective brand through which Midlands rail companies can promote themselves on the world stage; working together where appropriate to drive innovation and win more business. Rail is also vitally important to Midlands Engine providing the connectivity needed for businesses to thrive. The combined expertise of our Midlands transport technology sectors is of international significance and Midlands Engine provides a platform for organisations to work across sectors to develop new and improved world leading products and services”. 

Robert  Hopkin of trade body The Rail Alliance, said: 

“Railtex 17 saw the launch of the Midlands Engine in Rail to a packed breakfast networking event staged by The Rail Alliance on the first day of Railtex.  The event brought together buyers, suppliers, facilitators all present in the spirit of celebrating all that the Midlands Engine does offer and can offer to the UK’s ever-improving railway.  Presentations from the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) brought us right up to date with the requirement for the UK to become a world leader in High Speed Rail – incidentally, both the terminus for HS2 and one of the NCHSR sites being in the Midlands Engine parish bode well for investment, skills and business.

The Business Lunch on the second day of Railtex was extremely well attended with great representation from academia, trade associations (including the Motorsport Industry Association) and the innovation communities as well as presentations from organisations making a difference today to the skills and competences of railway workers.  The headline presentation from Gordon Wakeford, MD of Siemens Transportation (UK) and Chair of the Rail Supply Group identified the Midlands Engine supply base as being both highly respected for its capabilities and, importantly, exciting in terms of prospect for the future supply of goods products and services to the UK railway and abroad.

Additionally, these events showcased the opportunities for Foreign Direct Investment with several overseas buyers arriving for these meetings.  With presentations from the Rail Forum East Midlands and others during the two days, the profile of the Midlands Engine was well and truly raised and it was clear to see that the Midlands Engine is very much open for business!”

Image: Gordon Wakefield, Siemens Mobility and Chair of the Rail Supply Group (credit: The Rail Alliance)

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