West Midlands companies to capitalise on £3bn rail opportunity

Posted on 17 Mar 2009 by The Manufacturer

Companies looking to work in the rail sector are being targeted this week as part of a series of events being held by the Rail Alliance, the rail industry’s business network.

Two interactive seminars will be held in Coventry and the Black Country, on March 18 and March 19 respectively, to engage with firms keen to tap into £3bn of new infrastructure projects scheduled to take place between 2009-2014, including the biggest civil engineering contract since construction of the Channel Tunnel.

The aim is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current climate in the rail industry including how to get started, bidding for opportunities, ‘finding your niche’ and introductions to relevant partners in the supply chain. There will also be an initial insight into the technical and quality standards required to trade in this sector, and opportunities to make appointments with advisors at Manufacturing Advisory Service and Business Link to help with business development.

“The sector is one of the few in the global economy that is still relatively buoyant and is responsible for employing nearly 35,000 people in the West Midlands alone,” says Colin Flack, executive director of the Rail Alliance.

“Furthermore, there are currently big investment plans by Network Rail and the Department for Transport on the table, which will inject a further £3bn into reducing journey times, opening up new routes and adding capacity to congested routes.”

He added: “This represents a massive opportunity for companies not currently dealing with the sector to diversify and take their expertise and skills into this particular industry as a way of withstanding the economic downturn and possible expansion.

“The two events planned are a great first step in making this journey and we are expecting more than 200 firms to attend over the course of the two days.”
Places are still available for both seminars. The first takes place in partnership with Coventry Chamber of Commerce at the Oak Farm Conference Centre on March 18, and the second at the Black Country Chamber House in Dudley on Thursday March 19.

The events form an important part of the activity undertaken by the Rail Alliance, which was formed last year to create a hub for the sector within the West Midlands.
Originally backed by £300,000 of funding from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, the organisation has outgrown its first objectives and is now national in its remit, holding regular network meetings, ‘meet the buyer’ events and hosting business improvement programmes.

Its membership base, of which 250 companies still reside in the region, spans all aspects of the railway and supporting industry, from operators and manufacturers to consultants and component suppliers.
“We have successfully managed to create a hub that brings together all the different elements of the rail industry in a bid to share best practice, seek new opportunities and promote our expertise to the rest of the world,” adds Flack. “In addition, we have also developed real tangible business benefits, such as the web portal that features regular tendering opportunities, a new MBA for senior managers and the latest information on trading overseas.”

To book places for either event, please contact 02476 654321 (Coventry), or 01384 242432 (Black Country event). For further information on the Rail Alliance, visit www.railalliance.co.uk