The Rolling Stock Networking exhibition and conference took place in Derby on 7 July 2022.
Since its launch in 2018, ‘RSN’ has grown to feature over 145 exhibitors, all from the railway’s rolling stock and depot supply chain, and hundreds of interested delegates descended on the Derby Arena velodrome on a glorious summer’s day.
The Mayor of Derby opened the exhibition, wishing exhibitors a successful event, and the visitors streamed in. Companies small and large were there, showing off everything from washers to electrical connectors to carpets and flooring to complete train cabs.
Indeed, the structure of a cab graced the entrance to Derby Arena, courtesy of Greenbank Group, while Datum Advanced Composites displayed a generic cab moulding, that would normally be fitted to Greenbank’s frame.
Most of the parts needed to build a train were on show in Derby. From small fasteners such as NordLock’s washers and Southco’s latches to windscreen wipers (B Hepworth & Co) and even the windscreens themselves (Dellner).
Companies looking for a single source for products to enhance their trains were seen speaking with On Train, specialists in the maintenance and installation of DC Airco heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment and Infodev EDI passenger information systems.
Intangibles were on ‘display’ too. Several experts were on hand from specialist insurance broker Jobson James, advising existing and potential clients how to make sure they are covered for the particular risks that are inherent in the rail industry. In addition, there were assurance services from RISAS (Rail Industry Supplier Assurance Scheme from RSSB) and Achilles, ways to digitalise documents from Semcon, engineering solutions from Jones Nuttall and recruitment services from RBD Rail Recruiter.
In short, there was something for everyone.
Running alongside the main exhibition, on the balcony overlooking all of the stands, the i-conference attracted a great deal of attention, with delegates often finding there was standing room only if they wanted to hear the industry’s leading experts.
The i-conference – organised by Rail Business Daily and named after its theme of ‘Inspiring rail people by inspiring rail people’ – commenced with a presentation by Tony Howard, the Rail Safety and Standards Board’s director of assurance, who explained what RIOSQS (the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme) and RISAS are all about and how they can help suppliers to gain business.
Paul Harwood, the programme director for industry with the Great British Railways Transition Team, covered an introduction to the GBRTT and its recent activity and how GBR will be a strong commercial partner in the future. He also considered how the rolling stock market could change in the future and the opportunities and challenges those changes could present.
A joint presentation on HS2’s new trains followed. Maria Griffin from the Alstom Hitachi joint venture and Bernie Rowell of HS2 explained the scope of the new high-speed line’s rolling stock plans and its overall vision.
Siemens Mobility’s head of business development Graeme Clark talked both his career in rail and about Siemens’ plans for the near future, including building London Underground trains in Lincolnshire, the development of battery and hydrogen propulsion systems and even export work for the Goole production facility.
Returning partly to the topic of Great British Railways and the future, Neil Ovenden introduced the new Rail Partners – an offshoot of the Rail Delivery Group – that will act as a trade association for train operators.
Finally, in this digital age, Tim Robinson, founder of Doddle and DigiRail, gave a fascinating insight into how the retail market had first been overwhelmed by the digital capabilities of companies such as Amazon but had then bounced back, with some of the traditional high-street retailers now equally advanced in their digital approach.
It was a useful and informative day, and no doubt most of the exhibitors and delegates will all be back for Rolling Stock Networking 2023 on 6 July next year.