The imposing setting of Millennium Point in central Birmingham provided the venue yesterday (11th March) for the launch of the new Rail Alliance. Over 300 railway professionals came together to learn more about the new offering and what this would mean for their businesses and the rail supply chain industry.
The event started in the auditorium, complete with giant cinema screen showing the new video setting out the vision for the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and the Rail Alliance. Introductions were made by Alex Burrows, BCRRE Director and MD of the Rail Alliance, who emphasised the need for a community approach – free at the point of use and enabling business to collaborate and ultimately thrive.
Martin Little, Commercial Director and Eli Rees-King, Marketing Director then took the audience through what this would mean for businesses and – although much of the activity will be business-as-usual and SME focused – there will be significant additional benefits and resources for Community participants and partners. This now includes a ‘freemium’ operating model which includes free membership, but also tiered packages available to businesses depending on their requirements. Eli also highlighted the range of events already set up throughout the year and which are spread right across the country enabling as many people to get involved as possible.
Five special guest speakers also presented including Gordon Wakeford from Siemens and Chair of the Rail Supply Group, Robin Lapish from HS2, Mike Noakes from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Nicole Ireland from GAI-Tronics and Bernadette Culkin from Humaware. Each gave different perspectives on the rail industry and the importance of collaboration to benefit the whole sector. Innovation and skills were identified as major issues facing the rail supply industry that the new BCRRE Rail Alliance community is ideally placed to address. Formal proceedings finished with an interactive Q&A in which the audience participated with great enthusiasm (assisted by the foam microphone cube!).
Networking took place over lunch with the opportunity to visit stands to hear more about BCRRE, UKRRIN, the DIGI-RAIL project and Women In Rail.
Thank you to everyone who came to the event, we hope you had an enjoyable and informative day!