RIA Innovation Conference ‘shoots for the stars’ with new Apollo astronaut headliner

17 March 2021

The Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Innovation Conference has today announced its new, exciting keynote speaker, Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke, who will share his insights into what rail can learn from space missions at an exclusive interview.

During his time at NASA, Charlie was the flight controller on Apollo 11, part of the ground team in the Apollo 13 rescue and an astronaut on the Apollo 16 mission – he is also the tenth man to walk on the moon.

Taking place from 28-30 April 2021, RIA’s award-winning virtual Innovation Conference will feature a wide range of keynote addresses, workshops, and extensive networking opportunities around the theme of the Railway of the Future.

David Clarke, Technical Director at RIA, said:
“We are very excited to reveal that Charlie Duke will be a keynote speaker at this year’s RIA Innovation Conference, in a ‘giant leap’ for our flagship innovation event.

“Space exploration and rail actually have much in common, with large, complex, integrated systems required and a strong need for engineering excellence and collaboration. We have invited Charlie to share his experience of the Apollo missions - perhaps the ultimate example of human innovation - and what the rail sector can learn from his career, as we examine what a railway of the future will look like.

“The Innovation Conference is open to all, both from across the rail industry and beyond. We look forward to what promises to be an exciting three days of events and networking on the pioneering innovation going on in the rail sector.” 

RIA’s Innovation Conference brings together innovators, clients and policymakers from across the sector and beyond, to showcase some of the leading technologies and projects in rail, and help connect members of the industry involved in innovation.

Strategic Partners for the Conference include Network Rail and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). The Conference’s confirmed sponsors are Platinum Sponsor Knorr-Bremse, Gold Sponsor Altran and Silver Sponsors Porterbrook and Harmonic – who are sponsoring the session with Charlie Duke.

To find out more and register, click here.

Notes to Editors


  1. To find out more and book your attendance https://www.riagb.org.uk/RIA/Events/RIA_Innovation_Conference_2021.aspx
  2. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has some 300 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK. 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.

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