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Mon, 13 July 2020

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Rail industry demonstrates to transport MP how it is rising to the coronavirus challenge

Railway Industry Association

5 min read

Yesterday, rail organisations showed their efforts in combating Coronavirus in a virtual site visit with influential Transport Select Committee member Chris Loder MP.

Balfour Beatty, Movement Strategies, Network Rail and Ricardo Rail all took part in the ‘virtual visit’, demonstrating their work to ensure the rail network can keep moving key workers and resources, keep workers safe on site and support the NHS efforts to tackle Coronavirus. On the call, the discussion included how:

  • Balfour Beatty spoke about their work with Network Rail on the Kilsby Tunnel, on the West Coast Mainline;
  • Ricardo Rail, who specialise ins in engineering solutions for rail as well as other sectors, and have turned their attention to producing vital PPE, including protective face shields for key workers in hospitals and care homes;
  • Movement Strategies, who specialise in people movement and location insights, have the vital skillsets required to enable safe travel in the era of social distancing; and
  • Network Rail are continuing to deliver work on the Wessex route, whilst maintaining social distancing guidance.

Together, the organisations, ranging from multinational organisations like Balfour Beatty, to small and medium enterprises (SME) like Movement Strategies, showed how the rail industry is working as a united front helping the UK through the crisis. 

The virtual visit was part of the Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Rail Fellowship Programme, an initiative established in 2018 which brings politicians onto rail sites to help them develop an understanding of the on-the-ground workings of the industry. The Fellowship Programme is an important mechanism for ensuring politicians are in touch with key issues and workings of the industry. While traditional visits are not possible due to Coronavirus, RIA has adapted to suit the times, continuing the programme virtually at a time when constructive dialogue between politics and industry is more essential than ever.

Transport Select Committee MP Chris Loder said: “It was great to take part in the Railway Industry Association’s Rail Fellowship Programme today and to be the first MP to take part in a ‘virtual visit’. I really appreciated the insights from companies across the industry as to how the railway is dealing with Coronavirus and the level of innovation to enable the railway to start the return to normal. I very much look forward to going out on site in the future.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Rail suppliers are working hard to support the UK in addressing the Coronavirus outbreak, ensuring we can get key workers and resources to where they need to be, supporting the NHS’s efforts by manufacturing PPE, examining how transport can adapt for a post-Coronavirus future, and ensuring we are one of the key sectors spearheading the UK economic recovery in the months ahead. We are proud of the work being delivered by our members, in such varied areas, to support the national effort.”

“The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is as vital as ever in these times, in providing rail suppliers with a platform to show what they do. So we’re really pleased to host our first virtual visit and to show Chris Loder the incredible work our members are doing.”

Alan Atkins, Balfour Beatty Alliance Director for the Central Rail System Alliance, said: “We are pleased to be part of the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme as a platform to demonstrate the capabilities and expertise of our teams when delivering complex projects whilst putting the passenger first.

“Our collaborative and forward-thinking approach to the Kilsby tunnel project illustrates our industry-leading engineering capabilities, whilst implementing Balfour Beatty’s COVID-19 Site Operating Procedures to ensure the continued health, safety and wellbeing of all those who work with and for us, as well as the general public.”

Simon Babes, Director of Analytics at Movement Strategies, said: “Delivering a resilient public transport network has never been so complex as it is today; new approaches to demand management and operational planning underpinned by good data and analysis will be critical to the delivery of a safe and efficient service, helping to rebuild the economy. We are proud to be making significant contributions to this effort.”

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex Route Director, said: “In these challenging times, our priority is to continue to operate a safe and reliable railway for those passengers whose journeys are essential, transporting critical goods such as medicines and food to hospitals and supermarkets, and keeping our colleagues safe.

“I am proud of our staff who have carried on working throughout the pandemic maintaining and upgrading the railway to keep the country connected and this virtual visit provides an opportunity to share our experience.”

Dave Shemmans, CEO of Ricardo, said: “As Ricardo engineers, it is in our DNA to use our expertise to address challenges positively and create a world fit for the future. The need for PPE was clearly urgent, and we are proud to have been able to play our part in protecting those in the front line at care homes and in the NHS.

“It has been truly humbling to receive the warm and heart-felt feedback about our efforts to provide PPE to healthcare professionals in these absolutely crucial roles.”


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