Invest in GREAT & DIT showcase UK rail investment opportunities at InnoTrans
At InnoTrans 2018, the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse jointly exhibited as Invest in GREAT, allowing them to meet with potential overseas investors looking to find out more about opportunities in the UK rail industry; the most buoyant and fastest growing in Europe in terms of existing and planned investment.
The UK Ambassador to Germany Sir Sebastian Wood welcomes delegates to the Driving Innovation in UK Rail event.
Several events were planned as part of the Invest in GREAT showcase at InnoTrans, with the highlight being a Ministerial Breakfast Seminar on 19 September 2018 to focus on UK Rail Innovation, co-hosted by Midlands Engine, Northern Powerhouse and the Department for International Trade (DIT). The British Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt. Hon Chris Grayling, delivered the opening remarks at the British Embassy, Berlin, to a number of international companies with either a footprint in the UK or were interested in establishing a UK footprint.
The exclusive event was opened by HMA Sir Sebastian Wood and saw 150 senior business leaders from across the globe come together to hear about the opportunities in UK rail. The UK rail network is the fastest-growing in Europe – passenger growth is currently at 9 per cent a year, and passenger kilometres are set to double over the next 30 years to a figure expected to reach over six-billion kilometres per year. Demand has never been higher!
The Secretary of State for Transport used his keynote speech to explore the upcoming opportunities within the UK, finishing with a strong message that ‘the UK is definitely open for business’.
Other speakers included Stuart Calvert, Director, Group Digital Railway at Network Rail and Michael Noakes, Head of Rail/Infrastructure, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, discussing the forthcoming UK Industrial Strategy and how many companies in the sector have already been able to use this transformation to succeed.
This gave way to a panel discussion on innovation in the UK Rail sector. Alex Burrows, Managing Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway and Research Education at the University of Birmingham, talked about the new UKRRIN network which brings together several universities focused on rolling stock, infrastructure and digital technologies, and the university’s strength in rail applications of hydrogen powertrain.
Professor Peter Woodward, Chair in High Speed Rail Engineering at the Institute for High Speed Rail Engineering, University of Leeds, highlighted the strengths the university has in rail engineering technology.
Neil Bates, Design Director, Vivarail showcased the D-Train light-rail solution and its ability to run on battery and hybrid power and confirmed the delivery of their first of three trains to London Northwestern Railway.
A networking reception followed the keynote speeches where representatives from the DIT were on hand to explain how the UK government can help overseas businesses grow in the UK and support UK-based businesses to export.
Overall the UK is investing more than £200 billion in rail projects across the country in the coming years. With this high level of planned investment in the railways, and a skilled workforce and innovative supply-chain, the UK has never before presented such a compelling investment opportunity.
Wendy Richards, Deputy Head of Transport Infrastructure at the DIT, said: “It was a pleasure to see so many senior representatives from the global rail industry attend this event at the British Embassy in Berlin. The event was well-received, and successful in its aim of pointing out the significant investment going into the UK rail network and how overseas companies can find commercial opportunities in areas such as digitalisation, decarbonisation and high-speed rail.”
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