Skip to main content
Top of the Page

Clacton-on-Sea MP believes innovative composites could ‘hugely benefit’ rail industry

7 February 2020

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton-on-Sea, has said that composite materials could ‘revolutionise’ the rail industry, on a visit to a company in his constituency, Dura Composites.

[L-R]: Tom Bowman (Commercial Director, Dura Composites), Stuart Burns (Managing Director, Dura Composites), Giles Watling MP, Daniel Russell (Giles Watling’s office)

From L to R: Sebastian Goodhew, Bombardier HM Ilford, Project Manager, Nicky Edwards, Bombardier Crossrail Ilford, Shift Production Manager, Priti Patel MP, Darren Caplan, RIA Chief Executive, & Andy Mills, Bombardier HM Ilford, Methods Manager

The visit was part of the Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Rail Fellowship Programme, where MPs visit rail suppliers to find out more about the rail industry. MPs experience a day on-site finding out about the importance of the UK rail supply sector, the people who work in it and the innovative products and services it provides.

Composite materials include high-strength, low-weight glass reinforced polymer (GRP) which are durable, non-conductive and non-corrosive as well as being lighter-in-weight and having the ability to reach new fire standards. Dura Composites has used these materials to construct station platforms, flooring, handrails, trackside walkways, pedestrian footbridges and bridge walkways. Critically, the use of composite materials ensures that refurbishment works can be completed quicker resulting in less passenger disruption.

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton-on-Sea, said: “It was fantastic to tour Dura Composites’ site today and see how they are developing innovative products for a range of industries. In particular, the rail industry and its customers could hugely benefit from the widespread use of composite materials. It’s brilliant to see these innovations are taking place in the rail sector – and are having a real impact on passengers. I’m proud that we have such a world-leading company right here in Clacton.”

Stuart Burns, Managing Director of Dura Composites, said: “We were delighted to host Giles and the Railway Industry Association as part of the Rail Fellowship Programme, and to show them the power of composite materials. Dura Composites has seen a huge increase in the use of composite materials in industries such as Power and Energy thanks to their compelling lifecycle cost and overall versatility, but there is still work to be done in showcasing its immense potential for speeding up improvements to rail infrastructure. Fundamentally, both rail asset owners and end-user passengers can benefit from high-strength, low-weight and durable solutions which are designed to reduce incidents and accidents at the platform edge through clever features such as anti-slip surfaces and height adjustable capabilities, and which can be installed more efficiently and cost effectively than traditional materials across the network”.

David Clarke, Technical Director of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “The rail industry is working to develop more innovative products and services to reduce costs, increase capacity and improve the passenger experience. The Railway Industry Association have identified four areas where the UK rail industry could develop world-leading capabilities – the areas of Materials, Automation, Data and Energy, or M.A.D.E. Using composites is a great example of how we are innovating when it comes to the materials we use, so we’re delighted Giles has been able to see the impressive work of RIA member Dura Composites on his Rail Fellowship Programme visit.”

Notes to Editors 

1. Parliamentarians who have taken part in the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme so far include:

Class of 2019
Baroness Morgan of Cotes
Jamie Stone MP
Sir Patrick McLoughlin (Lead Fellow)
Chi Onwurah MP
Peter Kyle MP
Christina Rees MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Lee Waters AM
Jeremy Miles AM
Cllr Dean Cawsey
Florence Eshalomi MP
Rachael Maskell MP
Baroness Randerson

Class of 2018

Luke Pollard MP
Alison McGovern MP
Lilian Greenwood MP (Lead Fellow)
Rt Hon. Priti Patel MP
Stephen Hammond MP
Martin Vickers MP
Jack Brereton MP
Chris Heaton-Harris MP
2. About the Railway Industry Association (RIA)
The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the trade association for UK-based suppliers to the UK and world-wide railways. It has some 260 companies in membership, in a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry. 
3. About the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme
The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is an exciting opportunity for UK parliamentarians and commentators to gain an insight into the valuable work of the UK rail supply chain at a RIA Member location. “Fellows” spend a day ‘on location’ with a RIA Member whose work is relevant to their role or constituency and experience opportunities reflecting the great diversity of technical disciplines within the rail sector. Candidates are gaining an invaluable understanding of a diverse workforce that together contribute £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people. 
The RIA Rail Fellowship Class of 2019 will be awarded at the annual RIA Parliamentary reception on Tuesday 26th November 2019. For more information, visit: 
4. About Dura Composites 
Dura Composites is a leading supplier of composite products with 24 years’ experience in delivering durable, performance-improving and cost-effective composite solutions to a wide range of industries. We help companies of all sizes unlock the power of composites, and our client base includes businesses in the Industrial, Construction, Rail, Transport, Landscaping, Marine and Leisure sectors. In 2017, Dura Composites was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of our achievements at the forefront of composite material technology. For more information visit 

Back to Top