RIA Announces Agenda for Unlocking Innovation Series on Light Rail

1 December 2020

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has announced the agenda and confirmed speakers for the next Unlocking Innovation event series, which will cover ‘Light Weight and Low Cost Railway’.

The five-day event series, held in partnership with RIA’s strategic partners Network Rail and UKRRIN, will run from Monday 14 to Friday 18 December 2020, and involve a range of exciting speakers from across the light rail industry and beyond.

The webinars will discuss new advances in tram systems, tram/train and light rail, the Very Light Rail (VLR) project in Coventry and the wider role VLR systems can play. It will also provide opportunities for networking after each day’s event, with a dedicated business engagement day on Friday 18 December

Confirmed speakers for the events include:

  • James Hammett, UKTram;
  • Elaine Clarke, Rail Forum Midlands;
  • Professor Clive Roberts, BCRRE;
  • Maxime Stignitto, Mott MacDonald;
  • Simon Coulthard, Alex Dodds, and Ian Ambrose, Network Rail;
  • Ian Foll, Arnold Whites Estates;
  • Nicola Small, Coventry City Council;
  • Nick Mallinson, Richard Jones and Naomi Arblaster, BCIMO;
  • Representative from the Department for Transport;
  • James Meredith, Chris Micallef, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG);
  • Julian Turner, Westfield;
  • Neil Cooney, SET Ltd.

Commenting on the announcement, Railway Industry Association (RIA) Technical Director David Clarke said: “We are delighted to announce the agenda and speakers for the upcoming Unlocking Innovation series on Light Weight and Low Cost Railway.

“Light rail schemes already provide vital connections for communities up and down our country, and with new innovations in the ‘tram train’ and ‘very light rail’ space, we could see even more schemes rolled out, with speedier delivery, lower cost and reduced carbon emissions. Given the Government’s stated ambition to look into the possible reopening of  the so-called ‘Beeching lines’, this topic will be of real interest to the industry, particularly as the sector looks to ‘build back better’ post-Coronavirus.

“We are looking forward to hearing from a range of experts and policymakers who are leading the way in pioneering light rail across the UK, and for the opportunity to have dedicated networking sessions after each day. Do join us for these fascinating presentations and discussions!”

Journalists are welcome to register, either via the link, or by emailing Alexis.King@riagb.org.uk.

Notes to Editors


  1. The full agenda is as follows:
    Monday 14 December –
    Advances in Tram Systems

    Speakers include: James Hammett, CEO of UKTram; Prof Clive Roberts, Director of BCRRE; Elaine Clarke, CEO of Rail Forum Midlands. Elevator pitches from: Maxime Stagnitto of Mott MacDonald and UK Operations Director at STECONFER, David Bailey.

    Tuesday 15 December -
    Tram/Train and Light Rail 

    Speakers include:
    Simon Coulthard, Network Rail lead on light rail; Nicola Small, Coventry City Council; Ian Foll, Operations Director of the Arnold White Estates. Elevator pitches from: Mike Orange, Director of Cecence and Mike Gray, Firstco's Managing Director.
    Wednesday 16 December -
    The Very Light Rail vehicle programme – Coventry Shuttle 

    Speakers include:
    James Meredith and Chris Micallef of Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG); and a representative for the Department for Transport (TBC). Elevator Pitches from: Noel Dolphin from Furrer+Frey AG and Dr Chris Hardwick from RSRG.
    Thursday 17 December -
    The wider Very Light Rail system 

    Speakers include:
    BCIMO Chief Executive Nick Mallinson; Neil Cooney, Technical Director at SET Ltd; and CEO of Westfield Technology Group, Julian Turner. Elevator Pitches: session will hear from: Graham LEE, WMG and Colin Robbins from Nexor.
    Friday 18 December - Business engagement day 

    Speakers include:
    Alex Dodds and Ian Ambrose from Network Rail; Prof Clive Roberts from UKRRIN, and Richard Jones and Naomi Arblaster from BCIMO.

  2. About the Unlocking Innovation Programme: RIA’s highly regarded Unlocking Innovation events bring together the people with ideas and ambition to drive change within the rail industry. The events create a platform for large and small companies, academics and innovators with the aim of developing productivities that will drive invention in the industry. Unlocking Innovation events also aim to create new supply chains, to build value and benefit the UK economy, rail suppliers and ultimately the customers, the rail users. Find out more here
  3. 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 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.
  4. About the Network Rail R&D Programme: Network Rail have made an investment £350m into the R&D portfolio in a bid to enhance invention and creativity in products, systems and equipment that will develop the industry and ultimately benefit rail users. https://www.networkrail.co.uk/industry-and-commercial/research-development-and-technology/research-and-development-programme/
  5. About UKRRIN: Formed in 2017, the UK Rail Research & Innovation Network (UKRRIN) brings the leading Universities in Rail with the industry to collaborate on ideas and drive aspiration and innovation. RIA is a founding member. https://www.ukrrin.org.uk 

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