Welcome to the April 2024 issue of our e-newsletter!

Welcome to the April 2024 issue of our e-newsletter where you can read about industry events and publications as well as activities that the Rail Cluster project is leading or supporting.

New members
A warm welcome to new members of the Rail Cluster this month:

You'll hear more about our new members in an upcoming round-up. Don't forget to contact us if you'd like to feature in a member spotlight email.

Rail Cluster project in numbers
  • 692 registered individuals
  • 470 registered companies
  • 287 registered SMEs
1-2-1 sessions
We continue to speak with our members in 1-2-1 sessions. These are incredibly useful for us to make sure we provide the right support where needed and make connections with the most beneficial resources. It's important to us to connect with as many members as possible so please do get in touch with us and let us know how we can help – shonaclive@scottishengineering.org.uk.

Inclusion in future issues
We're happy to share updates from our members, so if you have anything to share in future issues, please do get in touch by emailing shonaclive@scottishengineering.org.uk or by calling Shona Clive on 07967 366731. This could be from a rail sector organisation or an SME. Perhaps a project success, innovation, or milestone that you want to share, particularly if it supports the aims of the Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan.

Request for photography
If you have any company photographs that we could use for rail cluster collateral, we would love to hear from you.  We would use in various communications such as reports, or the rail cluster web pages and any other promotional materials and we would always credit you when using your images.  We would welcome images from all areas of the rail sector in Scotland; infrastructure, rolling stock, freight, train operating company images etc. so please get in touch if you have any images that you would be happy for us to use – shonaclive@scorttishengineering.org.uk.

1. Industry news


Latest rail funding and engagement opportunities

East West Rail's Innovation Manager Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain has shared her latest list of funding and engagement opportunities within the rail sector. 

Click below to read the extensive and detailed list. 

£4.8bn, five-year investment plan for Scotland’s Railway gets underway

Network Rail has announced the start of its five-year investment plan to deliver a safe, green, reliable railway for Scotland’s passengers, freight customers and taxpayers.

Between April 2024 and March 2029, £4.8bn will be invested across the country to improve punctuality, reduce delays and make Scotland’s Railway more resilient in the face of our changing weather.

The plan announced includes:
•    Over £2bn of investment in renewing key infrastructure
•    Over £1bn of investment in maintaining Scotland’s Railway
•    Increased investment in drainage systems and more drainage engineers
•    Continued investment in new technology to help monitor the impact of extreme weather
•    Installation of more remote monitoring equipment to give early warning of potential issues

Funding opportunity: Pushing the frontiers of environmental research, July 2024

Apply for funding to pursue an ambitious, high risk and high reward project in environmental research.

You must be:

  • based at a UK research organisation eligible for Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funding
  • in a role that meets the individual eligibility requirements
UKRI welcomes:
  • multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research
  • projects delivered in partnership with other research funders and users
The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £950,000. UKRI will fund 80% of the FEC.

Recycled plastic sleepers laid in historic Perthshire railway tunnel

A 175-year-old Perthshire railway tunnel has been given a new lease of life in a £6m project delivered by Network Rail.

Trains travelling through Moncrieffe tunnel, south of Perth, will now be running on rails supported by recycled plastic sleepers.

More than 3,690 new plastic sleepers were laid during engineering work to renew the track which was successfully completed on Tuesday, February 27, following three short closures of the line during February.

It’s the first time that composite sleepers – which lay on top of the ballast, hold up the rails and keep them the correct distance apart – have been used at such volume anywhere on Scotland’s Railway.

Multi-million-pound flood resilience project at Croy complete

A £3.5 million programme to improve the resilience of the railway between Croy and Dullatur in extreme weather has been delivered successfully.

Over the last 12 months, Network Rail and QTS have carried out work to improve drainage and prevent landslips on the Edinburgh – Glasgow main line (on behalf of Scotland’s Railway).

This line carries tens of thousands of people every day between the two cities at speeds of up to 100mph but has faced speed restrictions during periods of heavy or prolonged rain due to the increased risk of landslips.

ORR releases passenger rail usage statistics for Q3

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has released its passenger rail usage statistics for Q3 (October – December 2023).

These statistics show the volume of passenger journeys, kilometres and revenue on Great Britain’s main line network.

ORR recorded 417 million rail passenger journeys in Great Britain over the last quarter. This represents a 20 per cent increase on the 348 million journeys made between October to December 2022.

Great Western Railway’s innovative fast-charge battery trial underway

Great Western Railway’s (GWR) innovative fast-charge battery trial has officially commenced.

Over the past two weeks, specialist GWR engineers have successfully tested the compatibility of the fast-charge technology with the Class 230 battery train on the Greenford branch line.

The industry-leading trial will now start in earnest and it is hoped the technology could one day see battery-powered trains in operation across the UK’s approximately 2,000 miles of 80-plus branch lines.

MD of Scotland’s Railway to take up role of Director General, Rail Services

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that Alex Hynes will take up the role of Director General, Rail Services, on 15 April 2024. Alex is set to join the DfT on a two-year secondment from his current position as Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway.

In his current role, Alex has successfully led the Scotland’s Railway team, which has been accountable for devolving more responsibility for rail in Scotland, while working effectively with partners Transport Scotland and ScotRail to grow collaboration for the benefit of rail users across the country.

Railway Children sleepout event raises over £130,000

Network Rail has teamed up with the charity Railway Children to host a fifth annual sleepout event in railway stations across the country, raising money and awareness for the work being done to help the thousands of vulnerable young children who pass through the railway every year.

This year’s event, sponsored by VolkerRail, was even bigger than last year’s sleepout, with the highest number of participants ever taking part including at seven Network Rail managed stations.

More than 400 participants from across the industry, from regional managing directors to frontline staff and Network Rail’s Chair Lord Peter Hendy who is also patron of the charity, took part in the event and have exceeded the fundraising target.

50 new JNA-X box wagons increase UK’s rail freight capacity

Porterbrook and GB Railfreight have entered into an agreement for the production and purchase of 50 new box wagons to be manufactured by Greenbrier.

The deal marks continued investment into the rail freight sector, adding to the existing 100 intermodal twin wagons and 50 box wagons delivered to the UK rail network since 2022.

The new wagons, arriving in the UK in Q3 2024, will replace aging assets while also enabling an increase in the nation’s rail freight capacity.

2. Industry events


Building a bright skills future for the Rail Industry in Scotland

17 April 2024 | 08.00-10.00 | The University of Edinburgh

Learn how the rail sector can address the growing skills gap in the engineering industry by engaging with primary schools.

Come along to this event for a compelling panel discussion centered around Primary Engineer's new report, "Keeping Kids on Track: Evaluating Five Years of The Primary Engineer Rail Programme." 
The event will run from 08.00-10:00 with coffee and networking before and after the session. If you would like to attend, you can register below.  
Esteemed leaders from industry, education, and government will converge to delve into strategies for cultivating a vibrant skills landscape within the Scottish rail sector. The report highlights the impactful work of Primary Engineer, an educational not-for-profit, who bring engineering into primary schools. Discover how this engagement has ignited a passion for rail engineering among young minds, fostering a deeper understanding of the sector's opportunities. 

International Opportunities: BCRRE Supporting the Rail Supply Chain

17 April 2024 | 10.30-14.30 | RaisE Business Centre, Goole

Are you in the rail supply chain industry and looking to expand your business internationally?

This in-person event will provide you with valuable insights from BCRRE who operate globally and their speakers who will share valuable knowledge to help you seize international opportunities.

At this event, you’ll have the chance to network with industry experts and fellow professionals, gaining valuable knowledge and building relationships that can propel your business forward. The speakers will share their expertise on exporting from track to train and freight, highlighting the potential for growth and collaboration.

Women in Rail Awards 2024

16 May 2024 | 18.15-01.00 | Roundhouse, Camden

Women in Rail is delighted to announce that the Women in Rail Awards 2024 will take place on the evening of Thursday 16 May 2024 at the historic Roundhouse in Camden.

The Women in Rail Awards aim to showcase and reward individuals and companies (large and small) who have made a significant contribution to improving gender balance, equality, diversity and inclusion within the UK railway industry.

The event is attended by a cross section of the UK rail sector, including key stakeholders and decision makers, infrastructure providers, operators, manufacturers, rolling stock companies, technical consultancy companies and suppliers, to name only a few.

Community Rail Week

20-26 May 2024

Community Rail Week, sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, returns for its fourth year from Monday 20 – Sunday 26 May 2024 and will showcase the innovative projects and inspiring initiatives from across the community rail movement around the theme of ‘More Than A Railway’.

Community Rail Network is encouraging members, partners and supporters to plan how they will get involved to showcase the importance of our railways and the inspiring work community rail partnerships and station groups deliver year-round.

Community Rail Week aims to:
•    Raise the profile of community rail through celebratory communications;
•    Amplify and elevate members’ activities and stories, providing them with a platform and tools to deliver impactful engagement and reach wider audiences;
•    Encourage and enable more people to use the train as a sustainable, healthy, inclusive way to travel, through local engagement and our communications;
•    Forge stronger partnerships and offer collaborative opportunities for working with the rail industry and wide-ranging partners and supporters.

Innovation In Rail: BCRRE Supporting the Rail Supply Chain

5 June 2024 | 10.00-15.00 | Birmingham Centre for Railway Research & Education

Join the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research & Education for an exciting in-person event focused on Innovation in Rail. Discover innovative advancements in the rail industry and connect with stakeholders from the rail supply chain. This event is a great opportunity to network, gain insights of technologies shaping the future of rail transportation. Don’t miss out on this informative and engaging event!

UK Light Rail Conference

17-18 June 2024 | Uniersity of Leeds

The next UK Light Rail Conference will be held in the city of Leeds as they start to plan and prepare for their promised new light rail system. 

The theme of the conference will be ‘Looking to the future’ and, as ever, we will be hearing from the key decision makers from all across the industry as we move forward towards a more sustainable future together. 

Be right at the heart of the action by meeting key decision-makers and planners from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority team as they prepare for the launch of their new system.  
With key panel debates, meet the buyers networking and many opportunities to place your brand and offering in front of the people that matter, this is a fantastic chance to develop and build new connections and build upon all the potential that a brand new system has to offer! 

Rail Live 2024

19-20 June 2024 | Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Attend the UK’s largest and only immersive rail exhibition

Registration is now open to join 6000+ rail professionals at Rail Live 2024.

Why attend?

  • Experience the UK’s largest rail plant exhibition to stay up-to-date on the latest innovations and plan for 2025 and beyond.
  • Meet more potential partners representing all aspects of the rail industry in 2 days than you could in 6 months, saving you time & money.
  • Evaluate over 270 suppliers and make fast, informed decisions in a real railway environment via live plant demonstrations to directly compare pieces of kit.
  • Connect with leading professionals from Network Rail and Government to develop your skills and improve best practices within your organisation.

Rail Infrastructure Networking

12 September 2024 | 09.30-13.30 | Derby Arena

This event brings the rail infrastructure industry together in one room for networking with no distractions of speeches or presentations, so they can meet each other and potential new customers to grow their businesses.

The event will feature Meet the Buyer meetings with procurement managers from major buyers who are looking for new supplier products and services.

The Rail Cluster Hub is your place to connect and collaborate with other companies within the rail sector, as well as keeping up to date with industry events and publications. Browse the directory to see which companies are part of the Rail Cluster or start a coversation in our forum. 
As a Rail Cluster member you may have an existing account - use your email address to set a new password if required. 
The Rail Cluster Builder project Phase 2 was awarded by Scottish Enterprise to Scottish Engineering in July 2022.  Supported by Transport Scotland and Skills Development Scotland, Phase 2 is a three year project following on from Phase 1 and its purpose is to facilitate connections for SMEs in the engineering and manufacturing sectors in Scotland seeking to diversify into the rail market.  The project is also part of efforts to make Scotland a world leader in creating net zero emissions railways with ambitious targets set by the Scottish Government in its Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan to decarbonise Scotland’s rail services by 2035. 

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