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Railway Industry Association: Fully engaged with InnoTrans 2020

Posted: 15 April 2020 | | No comments yet

Neil Walker, Exports Director at the Railway Industry Association, looks ahead to InnoTrans 2020 and what UK companies can expect at the world’s biggest rail trade fair.

Railway Industry Association: Fully engaged with InnoTrans 2020

Rail is vital to the UK economy. It is a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people – more than the workforce of Birmingham. And for every £1 spent on the rail network, £2.20 is generated in the wider economy.

However, whilst many are aware of the economic value rail brings to the UK, not as many are aware that rail is a significant export for the UK. In fact, rail exports around £800 million every year in goods and services. And, with the government’s strategy to increase exports from 30 to 35 per cent of GDP, and to engage with new markets post-Brexit, rail will have an even bigger role to play in the future.

The good news is that the vibrant rail sector around the world offers many opportunities – and the market is expected to grow. UNIFE’s World Market Study in 2018 found that the UK is now worth a record €163 billion and is expected to grow on average by 2.7 per cent from 2021 to 2023.

So, how can a UK rail company get involved in exporting? Part of my role as Exports Director for the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the trade body for rail suppliers, is to encourage companies to consider exporting – introducing them to overseas markets through trade missions, exhibitions and international briefings.

InnoTrans 2020

InnoTrans is the world’s biggest rail trade fair. The week-long fair brings together the rail industries of almost every nation in the world and is held every two years in Berlin. InnoTrans 2018 attracted over 153,000 trade visitors from more than 149 countries and – with 3,062 exhibitors from 60 countries occupying 105,773m2 of hall space and 10,254m2 of outdoor tracks – they don’t get much larger than this!

The exhibition has something for everyone. It occupies 42 halls and is sub-divided into five segments covering Railway Infrastructure, Railway Technology, Public Transport, Interiors and Tunnel Construction, along with its own outdoor and track display area, which features rolling-stock, wagons, railway track machinery, road-rail vehicles and even a bus display area.

Rail is vital to the UK economy. It is a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people – more than the workforce of Birmingham. And for every £1 spent on the rail network, £2.20 is generated in the wider economy.

However, whilst many are aware of the economic value rail brings to the UK, not as many are aware that rail is a significant export for the UK. In fact, rail exports around £800 million every year in goods and services. And, with the government’s strategy to increase exports from 30 to 35 per cent of GDP, and to engage with new markets post-Brexit, rail will have an even bigger role to play in the future.

The good news is that the vibrant rail sector around the world offers many opportunities – and the market is expected to grow. UNIFE’s World Market Study in 2018 found that the UK is now worth a record €163 billion and is expected to grow on average by 2.7 per cent from 2021 to 2023.

So, how can a UK rail company get involved in exporting? Part of my role as Exports Director for the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the trade body for rail suppliers, is to encourage companies to consider exporting – introducing them to overseas markets through trade missions, exhibitions and international briefings.

InnoTrans 2020

InnoTrans is the world’s biggest rail trade fair. The week-long fair brings together the rail industries of almost every nation in the world and is held every two years in Berlin. InnoTrans 2018 attracted over 153,000 trade visitors from more than 149 countries and – with 3,062 exhibitors from 60 countries occupying 105,773m2 of hall space and 10,254m2 of outdoor tracks – they don’t get much larger than this!

The exhibition has something for everyone. It occupies 42 halls and is sub-divided into five segments covering Railway Infrastructure, Railway Technology, Public Transport, Interiors and Tunnel Construction, along with its own outdoor and track display area, which features rolling-stock, wagons, railway track machinery, road-rail vehicles and even a bus display area.

The UK at InnoTrans

RIA is the only fully-accredited Trade Challenge Partner in the sector, managing the UK pavilions in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT). We’ll be back and fully engaged with InnoTrans 2020, supporting our 300+ member companies and the UK rail supply sector in general.

RIA organises three UK ‘GREAT branded’ pavilions in Halls 2.2, 23b and 11.2. We hope to have around 30 to 40 UK companies exhibiting on these pavilions, plus 79 UK exhibitors exhibiting independently – meaning a potential UK presence of over 120 companies, showcasing a wide range of our excellent products and services.

In addition, some multi-national based companies also exhibit under their own brand. Many of these have a significant UK presence and some export from their UK facilities, so add even more to the UK’s presence at the show.

We asked some RIA members and UK rail exporters what their thoughts were on the event. Market Director for Strategic Rail at Atkins, Scott Kelley, told us: “Atkins, who are exhibiting in the City Cube, agree that InnoTrans is a great opportunity to showcase UK capability to a global audience. The four-day extensive conference and variety of events facilitate conversations across specialisms and top agenda items, including connectivity, capacity and carbon. InnoTrans helps to raise the profile of scalable UK projects like high-speed rail, the breadth and wealth of additional projects across UK networks and to promote international expertise into the UK.”

Derek Burns, Managing Director of Rail Products UK, and winner of RIA’s SME Exporter of the Year Award, added: “We now export our ‘Road Rail MEWP’s’ all around the globe, so exhibiting at InnoTrans has naturally become an integral element of our ongoing business plans. Being the biggest rail international transport show in the world, it attracts the key industry players, which, in turn, creates the potential opportunities for us to access new export markets, as well as develop additional business within existing markets and with current customers.”

Working with government is key to making InnoTrans a success for the UK; RIA works closely with the DIT and the Department for Transport (DfT) for InnoTrans. Typically, the DIT will provide UK SME companies with Trade Access Programme (TAP) grants worth £1,500, each administered via RIA to help with the exhibition costs of InnoTrans (at the time of going to print, the number and amount of grants is yet to be confirmed). In addition, many DIT officials from our Embassies and High Commissions around the world, who support UK companies exporting their rail products and services, will be present to offer advice and meet businesses, too.

One of the highlights of InnoTrans is the prestigious UK networking reception, hosted by RIA and DIT on the Wednesday evening. This year, the UK reception provides an ideal platform for the many UK companies and international delegates to network and engage with key contacts. In 2018, the UK reception attracted over 300 guests from 17 countries. This year, the 2020 reception moves to the strikingly modern British Embassy in Berlin, designed by leading British architect, Sir Norman Foster.

Previous InnoTrans shows have been supported by the Secretary of State for Transport, who has attended the exhibition, toured UK companies and provided a keynote address at the reception. RIA will be inviting the Transport Secretary to InnoTrans 2020 and, subject to his own commitments, hope to have similar support this September.

Why should UK companies consider attending?

Increasing rail exports is a key priority for both the government and industry. In 2019, government and industry came together to agree the Rail Sector Deal, one of the key pillars of which is ‘Exports & Inward Investment’. This sets an objective of doubling rail exports by 2025.

The Exports & Inward Investment Industry Champion for the pillar is Noel Travers, Managing Director of Unipart Rail and Unipart Manufacturing Group, who says: “Innotrans is the biggest rail exhibition in the world, and probably the most important rail event of its kind, showcasing all aspects of the rail supply chain and attracting a diverse international audience. For Unipart Rail, InnoTans represents a key opportunity to promote our offering to the global market and support our international growth. In 2020, we’ll be promoting Unipart Rail propositions in Supply Chain Solutions, as well as Technology and Product Solutions, with a strong emphasis on Digital and Innovation.”

For UK companies, there is simply no better event to meet the global rail industry. And there are many areas where the UK has world leading capabilities that could be developed into business opportunities overseas. These include:

  • Decarbonisation of the railway, electrifying intensively used lines and by using battery and hydrogen power
  • Digitalisation of the railway through deployment of digital signalling as the standard train control and traffic management system or building stronger protection though cyber-security
  • Better value, using whole life asset optimisation and through life management
  • Customer experience covering data analytics, management and systems and on-board online services
  • Rolling stock and high value systems, including light weighting, propulsion, industrial and ergonomic design.

RIA’s Chief Executive, Darren Caplan, concludes: “There has never been a better time for rail companies to get involved in exporting. InnoTrans provides a truly unique opportunity, with so many senior rail officials and exhibitors in one place, providing an ideal occasion to network or reaffirm existing relationships with a large‑scale international audience. We hope to see you there!” 

Neil Walker has been RIA’s Exports Director since April 2014, having previously worked in the now Department for International Trade (DIT)/Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the aerospace sector. From 2005 to 2009, he was the Head of the Rail Sector team at DIT, before spending five years at the British High Commission in Singapore, where he managed several successful RIA missions and lead on rail, infrastructure, aerospace and defence and security sectors. Neil has used his strong contribution of experience, skills and knowledge of working overseas to actively develop RIA’s promotion of exports, helping members to unlock international rail opportunities worldwide.

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