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Shadow Rail Minister celebrates the role of SMEs in rail for RIA Fellowship Programme

14 October 2019

On Friday, Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central and Shadow Rail Minister visited Siemens’ Railway Depot before meeting rail SMEs from across York, as part of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) 2019 Rail Fellowship Programme.

L-R: Paul Baines (Rolling Stock Sales Director, Siemens UK), Rachael Maskell MP, Neil Lufty (Depot Manager, Siemens UK), Simon Wildgoose (Fleet Delivery Manager, Siemens UK)

Maskell spent the morning at Siemens’ Leeman Road Railway Depot where she met with apprentices and toured the site, before meeting with three local small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to discuss their work in the UK’s rail supply chain. The discussions with Incremental Solutions, TSP Projects and the Signature Rail gave a valuable opportunity for SMEs to highlight the invaluable role they play in the successful running of the UK’s railway network. Maskell also met with several apprentices from TSP Projects where she learnt about how they are being integrated into the industry and developing their early rail careers. 

This is the latest visit for RIA’s Rail Fellowship Programme, which over the last two years has also hosted Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris MP, former Secretary of State for Transport Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP, Transport Select Committee Chair Lilian Greenwood MP, and Home Secretary Priti Patel MP. The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme showcases the work of the UK rail supply chain by encouraging parliamentarians and influencers to gain hands-on experience in the industry and has been extremely successful with politicians continuing to pledge interest in taking part. 

Friday’s visit, which took place on the final day of Rail Week, was particularly important due to the focus on SME’s in the rail sector, which play a vital role in contributing to the industry and the UK economy. 

Rachael Maskell MP said: "Small and medium sized businesses in the rail industry are essential to the running of our railway network, introducing innovative products and services into the sector, providing employment opportunity to local residents and training up young people through apprenticeships. It was fantastic to see three of these SMEs from my constituency, and to discover more about how they contribute to the running of our railways. I’d like to thank the Railway Industry Association for organising this visit.’ 

Simon Babes, Chair of the Railway Industry Association SME Group and Director of Movement Strategies, said: “SMEs are often the unsung heroes of our rail supply chain – and are regularly providing new ideas and products that can radically improve our rail network. 

“As Chair of the Railway Industry Association SME Group, and a Director of an SME myself, I am pleased to have had the chance to meet Shadow Rail Minister Rachael Maskell on behalf of the rail supply SME community, and to help her take part in the Fellowship Programme to promote the great work that SMEs do. These Rail Fellowship visits are essential for demonstrating the real importance of the rail supply chain in its entirety, and I am thankful for the Shadow Minister taking part today.” 

William Wilson, Managing Director at Siemens Mobility Limited said: “We were delighted to host Rachael Maskell MP, who is not only the Shadow Rail Minister but also the local Member of Parliament for our depot in York. It was great to show Rachael around our very recently upgraded train depot and to showcase the work we are doing at the forefront of the rail supply chain in this historical city for rail.” 

Niall McCreanor, Director at TSP Projects, said: “We were delighted to participate in the visit with Rachael Maskell MP to celebrate the opening of the new Siemens railway depot in York. As a major supplier of design and consultancy services to the UK rail industry, TSP Projects recognise the need to address the shortfall in skilled engineering resources in rail and have invested heavily in our apprenticeship and technician training programme in recent years. We were delighted that our young engineers were able to showcase their talent to Rachael, sharing their experiences as they embark on their new careers in rail.” 

Daniel Lee-Bursnall, Founder and Commercial Director of Incremental Solutions said: “York has historically been central to the UK’s rail industry, and we hope that during today’s visits as part of RIA’s Rail Fellowship Programme, we have collectively demonstrated that we’re shaping the future of the industry too. With innovative thinking and the right support such as this, we’re making big differences to the operational efficiency and safety of the rail network.” 

Shannon Wolfe, General Manager at Signature Rail said: “We were honoured and excited to participate in today’s visit as part of the Rail Fellowship Programme. This session provided a unique opportunity to better understand a small sample of the broad spectrum of innovative rail products and services delivered from companies based or operating in York and the North East.”

RIA is the representative body for UK-based suppliers to the UK and world-wide railways. RIA has more than 270 member companies and 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. 

The rail sector is of crucial importance to the UK economy, contributing £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 growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. 


Notes to Editors 

  1. For all media enquiries please contact: [email protected] or telephone: 020 3962 9001
  2. 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, see here
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