Rail Live 2014. An exhibition which does exactly what it says on the tin – it shows off railway engineering working in front of an audience, live. Writes Nigel Wordsworth

The first Rail Live took place on 18/19 June at Long Marston near Stratford-upon-Avon. Building on the success of last year’s National Track Plant Show, over 300 exhibitors gathered together to show off their latest products, equipment and services to around 5,000 railway engineers from around the UK and abroad.

Getting ready

It was going to be three long days including the Tuesday for build-up, although many of the organising team had been on-site for a lot longer than that. So a bit of preparation was necessary.

First of all – PPE. As this was going to be a working site, full PPE was mandatory. Although in possession of a full set, it was more suited to spending several hours on-track at midnight in the wind and the rain than three days of (hopefully) sunshine in a field in Warwickshire in high summer.

So some adjustments were made. Some good socks from Workforce turned out to be wonders – not so thick that they were too hot yet thick enough that there were no problems with sore feet for the whole show.

Four orange polo shirts from Safeaid’s Signal range were cool enough to not cause discomfort, while a hard hat from JSP was selected as it has a short peak and so wouldn’t get in the way of cameras and flash guns.

After adding all of these to the standard kit, it was off to Long Marston to make sure that everything was ready. On the Tuesday afternoon, the site was full of vehicles unloading everything from tents and generators to shiny new yellow machinery. Every exhibitor had to be self-sufficient so there were gazebos and marquees of all shapes and sizes springing up.

By 6pm there was some semblance of order about the place, and most would-be exhibitors knocked off for a well-deserved burger and beer (or water) at the Network Rail-organised barbeque. After some entertainment from a band which featured Martin Arter, Network Rail Infrastructure Projects’ commercial director, on guitar (they were good too!), it was time for some awards. These were introduced by Steve Featherstone, track renewals director and the driving force behind the show.

Awards were presented to the best suppliers to Track Renewals and for the best stands – although how they had been judged during the organised chaos of build-up that afternoon was a puzzle. A suggestion that a half- finished award be presented for the best half-finished stand fell on deaf ears though.

Congratulations to all the winners, and to Amey, Colas, Babcock and Carillion who paid for the food.

By now dusk was falling and the wise went off to bed ready for a busy day tomorrow. The less fortunate went back to finish off building their stands, and Andy Reynolds enjoyed his birthday cake.

And they’re off!

Wednesday was another fine day. By 8am busses full of people in orange were already arriving at the site having come from the car park at the old airfield down the road. Coping with this unexpected rush, harassed–looking people from MacRail were scanning tickets for two lines of people while a third was reprinting them for those who DSC_9327 [online]had forgotten to bring them. After the initial rush, that area ran like clockwork for the whole show.

What a transformation awaited the new arrivals. The stands were all finished, vehicles had been cleared from the site (apart from a few shiny ones on display) and everything was ready for a 9:30 start.

To drag visitors through the site, the conference programme, which would run through both days, was at the far end of the showground. Despite that, the tent rapidly filled to hear Pete Waterman, music impresario, railway enthusiast and champion of youth training. He is also very involved in the rail industry. “I’m in Parliament at least 2 days a week now as one of my jobs as an ambassador for the Government,” he told his audience. “I represent Crewe, Cheshire and Warrington, Cheshire East and Cheshire West; I’m on the Government body for rail for the North West.

“So I spend a lot of time in Government and have done for over six or seven years and I can promise you there is a difference from when I first went to the House of Commons seven years ago – they understand … that

if this country wants prosperity, if it wants jobs and it wants to go forward it has to invest in infrastructure, it’s not about anything else, it’s about infrastructure and if you don’t modernise it, if you don’t renew it then it doesn’t provide jobs and it doesn’t provide wealth.

At last we’ve persuaded all parties to understand that’s exactly what the railway is about. And I am old enough to remember when the railway was a joke with politicians, they would have closed it as quickly as they could have done, now we’re opening it up faster than we ever closed it, which is great news.

“But to do this, to get this to work we need young people. We need young people from school, we need people that are only just going to junior school to understand that this is a career, this is a real good job, it’s a job for life, it’s a job that no longer is just about digging holes, it’s a job where you need specialities; you couldn’t be like me and leave school at 14 unable to read and write because you couldn’t work any of your computers, so we need to train our children and our young people differently.

“It’s an exciting world that we live in right now in the railways because for the first time we have a bright future, and that bright future is our next generation of people that we’ve got to train and bring in.”

The CP5 challenge

Later that morning, Steve Featherstone took the stand. He covered the challenges for track renewals over CP5 and his ten-point delivery plan. One of the stand-out comments he made was about value for money and the supply chain:

“I let the on-track plant contracts when I was maintenance director about seven years ago and we bought those based on price; whoever had the cheapest machines won the bid. And we took about 8% off the price of the machines and we patted ourselves on the back and said, didn’t we do a good job, we have screwed the supply chain on price.

“What that did was it commoditised the plant supply chain. Every shift of the weekend or every mobilisation at the weekend typically costs £250,000. We put a £250,000 delivery system at risk because we ‘nickel and dimed’ on a £500 piece of kit and if we’d maybe paid £550 for that piece of kit but it was better maintained, more reliable, it de-risks a £250,000 delivery system.

“We have got to start thinking about reliability in service, far more than we think about price, recognise that the supply chain, if they are going to give us reliability and service then actually we have to allow them to make a reasonable margin.”

DSC_9538 [online]Other speakers covered their elements of the CP5 challenge, and there was an underlying theme of the innovation that would be needed to deliver those plans to budget. David Clarke of Future Railways looked at enabling innovation, Saleem Mohammad previewed the National Electrification Programme and Simon Scott went through the development of Network Rail’s new product approval process.

On the second day, Mark Southwell covered the CP5 signalling programme, Steve Naybour gave details of the success of the Track Partnership between Balfour Beatty Rail and London Underground, and Robbie Burns gave an entertaining and unscripted update on Crossrail and the Great Western upgrades.

Government support

Almost at the close of the show, just before Nick Elliot talked about the importance of the Supply Chain, Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin visited the show and spoke in the conference centre. He went over the investment that the Government was making in the railways, both by funding Network Rail through CP5 to the tune of £38 billion and also committing to HS2.

He was impressed by what he saw at Rail Live 2014. “We’re very lucky in the UK that we have so many world- class businesses in the rail industry. I’ve just seen some of the exhibition and I’m going to see more a little later on, but I want that industry to be able to benefit from our long-term sustained investment and that to be felt throughout the nation’s supply chain. For that to happen we want you to be able to recruit skilled people that you need, so we’ve built the Crossrail Tunnelling Academy and we’ll be building the new HS2 academy, the first new further education college for over 20 years to train the next generation of world-class engineers.

“A record investment is without a doubt a huge vote of confidence in the UK rail industry; it is important to invest in your track record – you’ve shown in CP4 and building Crossrail that together you can deliver major infrastructure projects on time and on budget and that’s what’s going to be so vital over the coming years.

“While the economy is recovering from our financial crisis and years of borrowing beyond our needs, people still feel that the cost of their commute is going to be incredibly important to continue to be as efficient as possible, so that rail travel is affordable to the fair payer and is good value for the tax payer – that’s what we mean by ‘keeping innovation and improving partnership working’ so that planned improvement work can be undertaken more quickly, so that works are completed on time, every time and track is handed back more quickly without actually compromising safety at all.”

Electrification demonstration

As well as a two-day conference programme, there were demonstrations taking place around the site. Everything from piling to track welding could be seen on almost every corner.

One of the largest was an electrification demonstration from ABC (the Alstom/Babcock/Costain joint venture for electrification) and Network Rail’s Overhead Conditional Renewal (OCR) team. Each member of the demonstration team was dressed in arc-protection PPE supplied by PHS Besafe. PHS individually measured each of the ABC staff to ensure a comfortable and flexible fit and then they were all issued with baselayer long sleeved t-shirt and shorts and then lightweight orange trousers and an ABC branded orange jacket.

The first day’s demonstration began with the SB Rail piling Kirow using its hammer attachment to install two 610mm x 4 metre piles. Once those piles had been driven, 7.2 metre structures were lifted and fastened to them.

When that was completed, the Kirow travelled to a second location and repeated the process. Meanwhile, Innovative Railway Safety Ltd installed a length of magnetic safety barrier, segregating the spectators from the demonstration area.

Next, two OCR SRS road-rail lorries and an ABC MEWP accessed the track and proceeded to install the fixed termination brackets and four new series 2 cantilevers.DSC_9395 [online]

The second day began with the OCR wiring train pulling out contact and catenary wires under tension and clipped into the cantilevers while another team began installing the pre-fabricated droppers. Once the train reached the final structure, the wires were terminated to the fixed end self-supporting anchor (SSA). At the other end of the demo, another OCR team in an SRS attached the wires to the tensioners.

All in all, it as an impressive, real-time demonstration on how to electrify a railway.

SB Rail, which was part of that electrification demonstration, enjoyed a very successful two days in the sunshine. The live piling demonstration delivered with its uniquely designed and adapted Kirow KRC250, the only one of its kind currently available in the UK, was a tremendous success and generated a real buzz around the show ground. This very special event enabled SB Rail to demonstrate its capability and efficiency in the safe delivery of piling and mast erection work in a way that would not normally be so accessible to so many people.

The World Cup

England’s performance in Brazil is probably best left unmentioned. However, Rail Live exhibitors and guests got into the spirit of the event at a Word Cup Dinner that was held at Stratford’s Holiday Inn on the Wednesday evening. The biggest dinner ever held at that venue, it raised £2500 for Railway Children and was enjoyed by all who attended.

Congratulations to Shannon Rail for sponsoring the event and to Ruth and her team for their hard work in organising it.

300 things to see

But, of course, the heart of the show was the three hundred exhibitors who had come to connect with their colleagues and customers. The range of products and services on show was matched almost by the varieties of tents, marquees, gazebos and mobile display units (caravans) that were packed into a seemingly-too-small 150 acres of Warwickshire.

Rail Media was handily placed in the centre. Editors Grahame Taylor of The Rail Engineer and Andy Milne of RailStaff both attended, and the entire events, marketing and sales team was on hand to meet industry contacts.

But that was just one of a host of exhibitors, and all seemed enthusiastic about the show and their presence.

Astra Rail, for example, was thrilled to be a part of Rail Live 2014. Having been the key supplier of attachments to  TXM (which incidentally won the best show stand award at the barbeque) for over 12 months, Astra’s involvement in the rail industry is growing. There is a strong belief in working with customers to provide solutions (in the form of excavator attachments) for a wide range of applications and Rail Live gave the company the perfect platform in which to exhibit some of the latest additions to its hire fleet.

Cembre was another award winner from the previous evening having received the Best Innovation – Small Plant award for its Robokatta Automatic Rail Disc
Saw. Mark Lewis commented: “The recognition is both encouraging and appreciated, particularly for our hard working design engineers who are trying to ensure there is a safer and healthier environment whilst working track side.” Robokatta certainly attracted a lot of attention on Cembre’s stand.

The VP Group had a joint stand with around seven group companies on display. One was Groundforce which took the opportunity to showcase a wide range of  products and services to a niche and engaging audience. Apologies were due to neighbouring stands for the loud bangs – they were in fact due to demonstrations that involved small footballs vibrating up the hose of U Mole’s Vacuum Excavation rig, with the extreme power causing them to burst. The team thought that it was refreshing to be at an event that is focused on hands-on demonstrating.

Hire Station was another VP company on show, supported by Nightsearcher which demonstrated a range of LED lighting, both 110V and battery operated. Makita also joined in with new 4-stroke petrol cut off and battery operated strimmers together with a range of cordless tools.

New products abound

Datum Geotechnical and Structural Monitoring took advantage of the warm weather to show off RailTempMATE. This innovative solution to the problem of Critical Rail Temperature (CRT) monitoring was a popular attraction throughout both days, generating high levels of interest. The positive feedback that Datum received from everyone involved with CRT confirmed the company’s belief that RailtempMATE is the ideal product for effective CRT monitoring. “Meeting with many knowledgeable people from across the rail industry and helping to build a world-class railway is what this event is all about,” a stand member commented afterwards. “We are proud to have supported Rail Live 2014 and our thoughts have already turned to addressing the new challenges we heard about during an excellent two days.”

IMG_3122 [online]RVT Rentavent demonstrated its solution to the many noise issues contractors are facing during piling works on their electrification works with the launch of a new product. With a lot of interaction over 2 days, noise challenges within the industry were discussed. Solutions to some of these are already available, and the company will be making further developments following the valuable feedback from customers at the show.

Bridgeway Consulting attended this type of show for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it! The team met both old and new contacts at the event and made some links they felt could have great value. Next time, they will bring some larger equipment with them to take advantage of the space available at Rail Live.

QTS, which features on this month’s cover, believe that Rail Live 2014 was a great success. The team endeavoured to show off its most impressive plant fleet and managed to showcase some of its most unique aspects.


As if having everyone in orange suits wasn’t enough (as well as some yellow and a few pieces of dirty brown!), several PPE manufacturers and suppliers took the opportunity to show off the depth of their ranges and highlight some new products.

Safeaid felt that Rail Live was a resounding success. As a company, they do a lot of exhibitions each year but none of them offer the unique opportunity to see the products they sell being worn and in use in a real rail environment. They found it very beneficial to showcase the broad range of PPE and track safety solutions they offer and felt that the interest they had was outstanding.

Clad Safety had a very busy stand with many new enquiries for rail workwear and PPE. Of particular interest were several new products including the Protal 5 Inherent FR/AS Boilersuit to GO/RT specification, ideal for track welding and grinding, Elka Rainwear waterproof bib & brace, Lavoro Exploration waterproof boots and X2 blue tinted wraparound safety spectacles.

Gore was there, and had a good level of quality visitors from Network Rail and contractors alike.

Bodyguard had a ‘shoot to score’ football competition going on its stand. Visitors were encouraged to contribute 50p per shot to Railway Children, as well as to look at the company’s new products.

Another charity – CLIC Sargent – was the recipient of special recognition when Colas Rail’s newly-refurbished Class 60 was named after the charity which is Network Rail’s charity of choice this year. A further surprise was an ‘interim’ payment of £15,000.

All exhibitors were asked to contribute to a central fund which will then be split between CLIC Sargent, Railway Children and St Johns which was supplying medical cover for the event. CLIC Sargent’s share of the final ‘pot’ should be more than the £15,000 handed over by Steve Featherstone on the day.

While on the subject of locomotives, there was a slightly-grubby Direct Rail Services locomotive on site with a Network Rail inspection train. As that company has at least one shiny new Class 68 in the country, why didn’t they take the opportunity to show it off? Colas Rail had a Class 70 on display – so new the paint still looked wet!


Fibrelite had its first experience of the rail industry at Infrarail, held at Earls Court in May. At Rail Live, it was their objective to demonstrate the many benefits of using GRP composite access covers as opposed to the traditionally used heavy (and slippy) metal and concrete. The open spaces of Rail Live, and the hands-on approach, gave them the opportunity to do just that.

E-T-A, manufacturers of circuit breakers for on-board power supplies on rail vehicles, was another company having a new experience. However, the friendly atmosphere helped and the team booked some quality appointments to be followed up afterwards.

Force One intentionally set its stand out to not only show their normal road suction vehicles but also the auxiliary and specialist equipment that allows for working in DSC_9596 [online]rail environments. Visitors were most interested in the new Brokk hybrid vehicle, a blend of suction/vacuum power and excavation power. Being able to demonstrate this vehicle excavating and using its suction power to move material through its intake hoses back to one of their suction vehicles over 20 metres away resulted in a number of project orders being confirmed during the show.

In addition, the Force One team walked around the show talking with other exhibitors and picked up other leads that way. As always at rail shows, there was as much activity between exhibiting companies as there was with the visitors!

Even the show’s insurer got in on the act. Specialist brokers Jobson James Rail and the insurer’s underwriter from rail specialist Newline were very impressed with the whole show. “Where else could I have met an owner of one our leading RRV Plant companies for a mutually beneficial conversation while we both sat in the sun relaxed enjoying our lunch?” joked Keven Parker afterwards.

Experienced players

The Pandrol Group stand was another with multiple exhibitors, in this case Pandrol UK, Railtech UK, Rosenqvist and Vortok, each promoting their own but related rail products.

A range of the current and new Pandrol rail fastenings were exhibited on short track panels, showing the now familiar FASTCLIP system for main line railways, the new ‘FE’ system recently adopted by London Underground, the range of existing and forthcoming ‘Re’ clips and the novel curved and composite pads. Additionally two of the new systems for concrete slab track were exhibited being the ‘FCA’ and ‘VIPA-DFC’ systems for mounting on concrete blocks or sleepers.

Railtech UK exhibited their range of alumino-thermic welding portions and accessories together with the Matweld rail cutting and grinding equipment. Indeed, Network Rail used a Twin Pack Unit and profile grinder for profiling the flash butt welds during their demonstrations.

Rosenqvist also assisted Network Rail staff during the demonstrations, this time of the high speed rail clipping machine CD500 as part of the stressing and welding demonstrations on track. This demonstration was repeated frequently over the two days of the exhibitions and generated big audiences for the high output process. Kieron Loy commented afterwards: “From the emails we have received since the show there is no doubt that the CD500 demo was a resounding hit.”

Vortok International was exhibiting the range of track accessories such as Vortok stressing rollers, safety barriers, temporary speed limit signs and balise fastenings complete with novel small detection magnets for signalling circuits.

Story Contracting, which only visited the National Track Plant Show last year, was glad they had taken the decision to exhibit this time. As a spokesman said afterwards: “After a busy few weeks preparing for Rail Live 2014 it was great to finally be there at the event networking with our colleagues in the industry. We were thrilled at the overall feeling of positivity that is out there in the industry at the moment and the interest we received in our capabilities, machinery and the Story team was fantastic.

Not only was the weather fine, but the overall atmosphere when walking the vast stretches of the exhibition was brilliant. This was a really worthwhile event for us and being awarded with two Golden RRV Awards for ‘Most Improved’ and ‘Best Operator’ was the icing on the cake!”

Network Rail’s own displays

Network Rail was present in force, naturally. Several sections, departments and organisations made an appearance. Most just tried to call themselves ‘Network Rail’, confusingly, but the Rail Live organisers made a valiant attempt to identify them all separately.

The National Certification Body (NCB) was one such. Engineers met with plant manufacturers and operators from the UK and Europe as well as freight operators during the exhibition. Judging by the prospective enquiries discussed, there certainly seems to be a need for NCB’s new approach for conformity assessment services and NCB are more than happy to help – whether it is rail vehicle, on-track plant and machinery, services for freight operators or infrastructure projects, NCB can offer an appropriate, value for money solution which meets safety regulations in all of these areas.

The IP Signalling Innovation Group’s (SIG) Play Pen proved immensely popular with visitors giving them the opportunity to ‘kick the tyres’ of a variety of products and solutions for rail projects. Some were old, some were new and some just ideas being floated for feedback, but all could add value if taken on board. Ranging from lightweight cable route solutions through to the use of PLCs for level crossing control no material or technology was off limits – the team even gave away Blackpool Rock in the shape of Aluminium power cable!

DSC_9553 [online]The Planning and Delivering Safe Work Programme team had a busy two days at Rail Live explaining the purpose of the programme and the forthcoming “Safety Changes” that will ultimately touch everyone that works on the railway infrastructure. They wanted to make sure that we spoke to as many people across the business as possible in an effort to explain the three key elements of the programme and alleviate any concerns that people have.

Network Rail’s Infrastructure Reliability Team showcased a number of new techniques and technologies that it has developed in order to improve the reliability of the railway infrastructure. S&C best practice was demonstrated live alongside displays of location case cooling, treadles, relays and track technologies. Rail Live provided a unique opportunity to share the team’s knowledge with the rest of the rail industry, and there was good engagement with manufacturers, suppliers, other Network Rail teams and even staff from the ORR. Having a complete S&C within a marquee certainly proved to be a unique attraction!

Interesting displays

Harting UK took advantage of the SIG’s focus on Plug and Play, the introduction of Class 2 and the need for ever faster data rates at the show to demonstrate some of its latest innovations. Of particular interest were glass fibre reinforced polyamide Han Eco hoods and housings for use in Class 2 applications, a single cable Cat 7 inter-car jumper assembly and Harting’s highly flexible range of modular connectivity.

Klingspoor Abrasives was another exhibitor demonstrating its products. The market leaders in abrasive rail cutting-off wheels held live demonstrations of some of their new products at the show and are now looking forward to exploring several new applications in which visitors expressed an interest.

Geotechnical Engineering attended Rail Live to demonstrate its innovative slope climbing rigs and collaborative methods for working when delivering site investigation services. The team found the event was a fantastic networking opportunity, highlighting the potential of how many new projects are available in relation to CP5. Indeed, one team member enthused that “Rail Live is one of the best shows we’ve ever attended!”

The Inside Out Group was one of several companies who not only exhibited but also assisted the show organisers. The group, consisting of Inside Out Technical Security and Inside Out Time Lapse Productions, is relatively new to the rail industry, and the event enabled them to share their film production portfolio and enhance their network across the UK. In addition, a film crew covered the event and Inside Out will be issuing a film production of the 2014 show later in the year. The team loved the opportunity to capture footage from Network Rail’s helicopter and is looking forward to including this within the film.

Hot and sunny – but beware of water

Perhaps not surprising after the wet start to the year, drainage and water-related exhibits were a string feature of the show.

Demco felt that the strength of the show was the visitor profile, people connected with the rail industry, who were keen to share experiences and had a genuine interest in track drainage pipework. “As a manufacturer we welcomed this show and in my experience it was quite unique in its scale and focus,” national business development manager Peter Harris commented.

OnSite delivers drainage maintenance services and portable temporary dam solutions. While these are not as high profile as the vast array of rail mounted plant and equipment on display at Rail Live 2014, the company welcomed a large number of practical and interested operational customers to the stand.

“As this event is overwhelmingly attended by rail professionals, who know what they want, we had no tyre-kickers; just serious people making a serious investigation of how we might help to solve their railway drainage problems.” That was the view of Max Reynolds, chief operating officer of Complete Drain Clearance.RAIL_LIVE_2014_-_SELECTION-020 [online]
As well as obtaining some very promising customer leads, the company is exploring partnerships with complementary service providers so that it can offer a more comprehensive end-to-end service for drainage and culvert clearance, relining and reinstatement.

Technological advances

Innovation was a common theme around the show, with Future Railway hosting exhibits in conjunction with the Rail Alliance.

Exhibitors helped each other out. One brought along an old Blackpool tram to show off a new drive system. However, they found that they had no way of getting visitors up into the tram itself as there was no platform. Step forward Martin Brooke from Bratts Ladders with a solution. Well done, Sir!

H2gogo found that being part of the Rail Alliance and Future Railways ‘consortium’ proved to be a fantastic opportunity to launch a new mobile hydrogen product range. They also verified their emissions reduction and engine carbon cleaning technology with impromptu live demonstrations on other stands, such as a Volvo 9 litre truck on the LCM stand, a Land Rover on the AM-UAS stand and the ice cream van by the entrance to the exhibition!

York EMC Services were also located in the Rail Alliance area and had a live electromagnetic compatibility emissions demo going on outside behind the marquee. Steve Seller, technical manager at York EMC’s Castleford laboratory near Leeds, had three antennas hooked up to an EMC survey test system. Visitors were able to see not just background signals (ambients) but also some real live emissions as rolling stock demonstrations went past on the nearby track.

Manta Rail Services had an eye-catching display with a mock tunnel portal. These were used to show off Manta’s range of mobile tunnel ventilation fans and the whole stand justifiably came in for a lot of attention.

Husqvarna displayed the K 1260 Rail Saw, which is one of the most powerful and lightest rail saws on the market. The included attachment RA10 was also shown which provides fast and stable mounting of the saw to the rail track ensuring a perfect right-angle cut. FR 3 blades were also exhibited. Due to its versatility these blades are ideal for the rail industry as they can be used for cutting wooden railway sleepers as well as alloy conductor rails. These blades can also cut through many other materials with ease including lightweight steel, PVC, ductile iron, fibre glass, wood, bricks, rebar and masonry materials.

Motor vehicles

Dawson Rentals was a good example of one of the more unlikely exhibitors at the show. Showing off a range of road vehicles rather than rail plant, nevertheless the company received a lot of interest for its more specialised vehicles such as 5, 6, 9 and full welfare specification. Pleasingly, visitors also discussed the standard product range of cars, vans, pick-ups and 4X4s where time- critical and safety-conscious solutions are of paramount importance. The ability to meet in a forum of likeminded individuals proved to be invaluable and a number of positive steps and meetings took place around future business requirements and vehicle standards.

South Cave Tractors also had vehicles on its stand – Unimogs. To be precise, three of the very latest and environmentally efficient Euro 6 Mercedes Benz Unimogs including the Zagro Rail equipped U423 Road-Rail  shunter shipped over from Germany especially for the event. Enquiries came from many organisations and departments all looking for solutions on-rail, off-rail, under-ground and over, for shunters, working platforms, tool carriers and rescue vehicles. Now the follow-up work begins, but South Cave Tractors couldn’t be happier!

RAIL_LIVE_2014_-_SELECTION-041 [online]Aquarius asked visitors “What do you see? Is it what Aquarius customers see?” and got an excellent response. Specialising in small RRVs Aquarius’ stand illustrated the sheer variety of uses for their nimble R2R 4x4s (Road 2 Rail Land Rovers) and Rail Mules, from the expected traditional personnel and equipment carrying to the innovative scanning now offered in collaboration with Cat Surveys and Topcon. This captures 360 degree images and point cloud measurements that are stitched together to form a 3D image which can be accessed on-site from a PC, phone or tablet.

Visitors were surprised to see how much can be transported with a R2R 4×4 including a full BV1000 kit, all of which is stored on the vehicle, reducing manual handling (and thereby improving health and safety) and  increasing productivity by avoiding trolley pushes. The various trailers on display demonstrated the payload that now can be achieved when used with a R2R 4×4.

Providing a VIP Road2Rail 4×4 vehicle to transport Pete Waterman from the station to the show topped off what was a fantastic event for the Aquarius team!

More to see

Quattro Group brought Dumbo to the show. No – not the cartoon elephant, although it was a graphic on the side of the Vroom suction excavator that gave rise to the name. The track gave the young pachyderm a perfect location to perform small on-track demonstrations, something Rail Live provides that no other exhibition can match.

Rail Products UK introduced the new ART 17T MEWP to the industry at Rail Live. 2014 has been an immediate success for Rail Products with Readypower ordering the first 20 machines. Derek Burns, managing director, was impressed by the outstanding organisation of the Event, the quality of the visitors and the total enthusiasm of all participants.

Capel Group is a specialist vegetation company that are capable of delivering projects from start to finish. It owns its own road-rail vehicles that have been specially designed to go on the track to help to make Network Rail a more mechanised environment. The two days of Rail Live gave Capel a chance to meet people from all over the rail network and let them know what machinery is available to keep the railways clear.

Alert5® was delighted to be invited to attend the 2014 Rail Live event, as it was a valuable opportunity to meet with vast numbers of influential decision makers in the industry, particularly within Network Rail. The Alert5 app was well received, generating many positive comments regarding its user-friendly interface and the fact that the app notifies up to five phone contacts in the event of an emergency. It was reassuring to see how committed the industry is to the health and safety of railway operatives.

The Nationwide Federation of Plant Equipment Operators (NFPEO) chose Rail Live as their launch event and it provided a great opportunity to create awareness of the Federation’s key objectives. Recent research carried out amongst members has identified ‘Training’ (beyond blue), ‘On-site Safety’ and a ‘Consistent rate of pay’ as important points that operators want the NFPEO to address in the near future. Therefore, the Federation found it especially pleasing to receive positive feedback and support on these points from a stream of visitors as well as fellow exhibitors.

Huge variety

Latchways, the leading manufacturer of fall protection systems, were exhibiting its complete range of products for working at height activities in the rail industry. Products included ManSafe® cable systems for personal fall arrest on ladders & monopoles, the ManSafe SRL for use on overhead systems in fleet depots and the Latchways Personal Rescue Device®, for challenging access duties associated with track gantries, signalling equipment and overhead cable installation and maintenance.

RAIL_LIVE_2014_-_SELECTION-054 [online]Horizon Utility Supplies was well supported by its suppliers, Klauke GmbH whose range of cutting and crimping tools were well received. Connector Products Inc. where the demonstrations of shear-type wedge connectors proved a great focal point and YDS/Goliath whose specialist footwear raised many enquiries.

Omnicom had a very busy couple of days. Stand staff received lots of great feedback and suggestions for Track Locator and the augmented reality app and Google Glass which are currently in the development stages. They also came away with some very valuable leads for future surveys of the network.

Complete Composite Systems debuted at this year’s RailLive, introducing for the first time their ground- mounted polypropylene cable troughing. Lightweight and structurally superior, CCS’ TerraSystem was roundly welcomed, as was their highly competitive, elevated composite trough, the ArcoSystem, which offers rapid, low cost installation, supported at six metre centres. CCS’ cable management systems were complemented by their range of composite access engineering, fences, bridge structures, decking, houses and the exclusive rail clamp system for track crossings for which the reaction was remarkably positive.

Anderton Concrete, another troughing manufacturer, used the exhibition to launch its Anderlite and Anderlite 500 ranges. The two systems reduce the weight of traditional troughing whilst still keeping the typical characteristics and integrity users have come to expect from proven cementitious technology. Anderton also launched Ander-Clip and Ander-Fin, both systems have been designed to alleviate lineside cable theft.

Talking of which, Remsdaq experienced much interest from both Network Rail and contractors in its new covert cable theft detection system. The system uses a covert fibre optic cable and analysers using digital signal processing to provide an early warning of attempts to steal cable from the Network Rail estate.

Gray Campling was another company to benefit from an interest from fellow exhibitors. Paint sprayers is a niche market, but Gray Campling picked up a number of leads from within the show as well as from visitors.

Enthusiastic visitors

Clarity Visual Management observed more enthusiasm than ever for visual management as there is currently such a strong emphasis on performance improvement. Visitors showed particular interest in visual management boards – a very simple and clear method of monitoring and tracking key measures effectively, thereby increasing awareness and accountability.

Ballast Tools just used the show to meet customers old and new. Dinesh Patel reported that it was great to meet and shake hands with engineers and end-users with whom they normally just speak with on the phone.

Alan Dick Communications chose Rail Live to stage its first exhibition specifically aimed at the rail industry. The show provided a great opportunity for exhibitors to demonstrate their products and services in a way that an indoor event could never do. It gave the company the perfect platform to present its Rapid Repeater solution for RF in-fills and,  as part of the exhibit, the training team demonstrated the process of Arc fusion splicing using rail specification optical fibre cable. This practical demonstration proved very popular amongst rail management professionals helping them to appreciate the processes involved by ‘de-mystifying’ optical communications within rail.

The innovative display by Liniar created quite a stir, with the firms lead-free, UK manufactured and eco- friendly track-side refuge on permanent display at the Long Marston site. Enquiries came thick and fast from contractors wanting reassurance that the PVCu product really is as lightweight to handle as it appears – and that it can be carried easily to site. Liniar was able to demonstrate the strength of its plastic log effect piling system, a real alternative to concrete or timber, and has already sent out many samples following the exhibition.

‘Smile if you got lucky last night’ was was just one of the examples of stickers printed up for visitors by KROY Europe. It was demonstration after demonstration on this busy stand. Now, Martin and James can’t wait to visit all the depots to see the signage that’s been produced by the staff, and if that sample is anything to go by the selection could be quite varied!

Siemens Rail Electrification brought its CUBE to Rail Live in June. Siemens RE shared its exhibition plot with the Rail Electrification Delivery Group (REDG) which is formed of Network Rail, RIA and the wider rail electrification supply chain and in which Siemens RE is an active member.

The REDG team steering group works on a collaborative approach in delivery of the £4 billion electrification work bank with member companies undertaking responsibilities in areas such as planning, resources, materials, plant and standards.

The Siemens and REDG exhibition area was visited by a large number of Network Rail employees and delivery organisations over the two days. REDG showcased the annual linesman event – a competition sponsored by REDG to seek out the best OLE engineers in the business.

All engineering projects rely on good drawings, and A-Tec Dos/Entwistle were on hand to show off wide-format printers, scanners and plan folders. Watching the Rigoli fold a five metre wide track drawing was an experience and, despite the sun, waterproof tear-proof films as an alternative to paper drawings have an obvious attraction.

A lot of engineers were clutching iPads on site. Peli Products were showing off protective vaults which keep dust and rain out of the works, keeping valuable data safe and allowing for the devices to be used in poor weather. They work too – the editorial iPad Air is safely housed in one of them!

ISeeU Global is a company very new to rail which is learning all the time. They found everyone willing to help them make connections, and set them straight on some of the terminology (who would have thought railway lines are called roads?). They made some good contacts and several very good leads, especially around Fatigue DSC_9223 [online]Management, Lone Working and Incident Reporting.

The Plastic Piling Company took the opportunity to displace a few myths about plastic sheet piling, particularly the fact that they can be driven effectively using conventional pile driving equipment.

The idea of combining plastic piling with timber posts, steel tubes and even concrete was well received, with this extending sheet piling into king posts and formwork.

The Kent Group was another first time exhibitor. The electrical, mechanical and civil engineering company , which also specialises in fire protection and steel fabrication, had a lot of interest. “The benefit of having all the industry in one place is immense,” commented Ian Kent. “What an event!

The summer weather was superb and the size of the event was staggering. The Organisers should be congratulated and the money raised for Charity is superb.”

Looking back

So that was Rail Live 2014. The weather was good, the exhibitors were numerous, the demonstrations were awesome, the speakers were interesting and the crowds were made welcome. The food, provided by Network Rail’s Westwood training centre, was good too although busy editors didn’t get much time for it. Lunch on Wednesday was one of Colas Rail’s very welcome ice creams, and on Thursday it was a chocolate donut from Van Elle (thanks Ronnie!).

Congratulations to the team from Network Rail, Rail Alliance, Rail Media, and MacRail who put the whole show together – it was a job well done. A lot of hard work had been put into preparing the site by teams from Motorail and Quinton Rail Technology Centre, so well done to them as well.

Steve Featherstone was understandably happy. “Rail Live 2014 was a fantastic event. We think that we had half a billion pounds’ worth of equipment on display.

Unless anybody knows otherwise, we think that Rail Live was the largest rail event in the world where you can actually see so much of the equipment being used live.

“Standing back and looking at the event, it spoke volumes about an industry and a supply chain that has a confidence in its future and is prepared to innovate to continuously improve the services that we deliver and the way that we deliver them.

“The intention was to bring the people with problems and the people with solutions together. I think that we achieved this on a massive scale.”