Rail Vehicles and Enhancements – RVE 2015 – did just what it says on the tin. Billed as “the only single-theme Expo aimed at the engineering of rail vehicles for refurbishment and enhancements”, the one-day show changed venue for its fourth year, moving to Derby’s Riverside Centre early in October.

It was very much a move for the better. The main exhibition hall was larger and accommodated the wide range of exhibitors with ease while not looking empty, and there was a buzz about the place all day.

This is a working show. Exhibitors were given limited space in the main room for a couple of pop-up banners, a table and a small display. No more was needed and it kept everyone on an equal footing.

The specific focus kept it sensible as well. It was all about the technology that goes into rail vehicles. So there were radios, and seats, and pantographs (OK – they actually go on top), and cables, and connectors, and passenger information systems, and even aromas (do you want your carriage to smell nice?).

Just through a doorway was another room, set up as a seminar theatre. Here Ian Walmsley, journalist for another publication (one you can buy in Smiths!), presided over an interesting series of talks and seminars that ran through the day.

Started with a bang

But what of the show in detail? It started early with a networking meeting by Rail Alliance in the theatre. Bacon cobs (baps, rolls, butties – call them what you will) were provided, along with tea and coffee, so the early birds could have breakfast, network with colleagues and hear a couple of presentations on ‘sensitive design’ from Veronica Elena Bocci and Luis Chomiak.

Meanwhile, next door, banners were being erected, tablecloths hunted down, and everyone was bustling about getting ready for a 9am start. Rail Media’s stand was up and ready early, and we seemed to be the designated table supplier, if only because the pile of tables had been leant against the wall next to our stand!

All was ready in time, and the first of around 500 visitors came through the door. Within half an hour it was really quite busy!

It was time for a cast around the show and, without naming everyone there (if you want to have a full list, the website is still live at www.rve2015.co.uk), there were certain stands that caught the eye.

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Lots to see

Harting had several boxes of connectors and jumper cables, including a neat way of pulling new cables through tight spaces in older vehicles. The cables are fitted with a slimline connector, looking a bit like a telephone plug. A pulling eye can then be snapped to this connector and used to pull it through bulkheads and cramped spaces. Once the cable is where it is meant to be, the eye is snapped off and the appropriate connector to interface with the equipment snapped on. Very convenient, and a great idea.

Insurance specialist Jobson James was next. Their advice to clients was simple – read the contract. In particular, check it for insurance implications as clauses in some contracts can invalidate insurance, which isn’t something you want to discover when it’s too late and everything has gone pear shaped.

GAI-Tronics had one of those stands you hate to be next to. Demonstrating how their on-board telephone system not only connected the crew with the driver but could also be used to make PA announcements was very interesting, but must have got on the wick of the stands next door by the end of the day. Still, they made their point and the system can even be run from the operator’s control room. Handy!

Design Analysis had one of the best logos on display. The company performs finite element analysis on train components, both for new build and refurbishments. The logo was made up of lots of little elements, reflecting the company’s activities, and was very eye-catching. So, too, was the rest of the display as a lot of it focussed on crash structures and their performance.

Signature Aromas make smells. A lot of people in railway carriages make smells too, as do the brakes and some of the electrical gear, but Signature Aromas’ are much nicer and you can choose what ‘flavour’ (is that the right word for a smell?) you want.

Brecknell Willis had a complete pantograph on its stand, and several experts, but not much else, while fellow Wabtec-company Mors Smitt next door had a few banners to show off its signalling capabilities. Both stands were busy.

Comprehensive displays

Hima-Sella’s stand was no bigger than anyone else’s, but they had a lot on it. GSM-R handheld radios by Funkwerk. Selective door opening equipment. A clever in-cab display that was actually two half-sized displays fastened together, so in the event of failure one half could still display vital information and get the driver home. This was a great innovation by partner Deute-Werk and one of the German company’s engineers was on hand to explain it all.

RDS was showing a video train positioning system. Knorr-Bremse (neé Railcare) promoted its vehicle maintenance and repair capabilities. Another recent name change, Ricardo Rail (formerly Lloyd’s Register Rail) was talking to visitors about certification and testing. I M Kelly had seats on display (not for sitting in, even by footweary exhibition visitors). HydraPower Dynamics was discussing hydraulic hoses while Elmatic had a range of heater elements on its table.


specialists Comtrol – ‘Power To Communicate’ – was demonstrating an anti-bridge strike system it had developed with TEW Plus. Naturally this can’t prevent bridge strikes, but a dedicated camera which monitors a graticule on the other end of the bridge can detect movement, both that expected from a train passing but also from something striking the bridge. If the movement is permanent, all the alarms go off. It’s solar powered too!

Rail Order, part of ADComms, works with its customers to reduce cost through initiatives such as consignment stocking, kitting of service components and just-in-time supply.

Lighting specialist McGeogh’s stand was hard to get close to – it was so bright! LED tubes were the focus here – direct replacements for both 24V and 110V fluorescent tubes.

Onyxrail had a central stand. The turnkey enhancements and maintenance provider delivers both complete project solutions or individual components to the rail traction and rolling stock industry. It can also offer higher- technology manufacturers a route to market in the UK and elsewhere.

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Sister companies Brentto Industry, a supplier of high-quality castings, forgings and machined components to the rolling stock maintenance industry, and labour supplier Skills4Rail were alongside the Onyxrail stand.

There was a lot more to see than can be mentioned here. Infodev passenger counting systems, BTROS cable looms, Televic passenger information systems, DC Airco heating and ventilation, Road & Rail Protec video systems for route monitoring, driver-only operation and such details as pantograph monitoring, all of these had interesting displays and experts available to talk with visitors.

All this and seminars too

There was a lot to see in just one day. And that is without the seminar programme going on in the next room. Ten talks were crammed into six hours, covering everything from vehicle design to operations. Speakers from technology companies Interfleet, Knorr-Bremse, Wabtec and Interfleet were interspersed with those from Porterbrook, Eversholt, East Midlands Trains and Vivarail.

Just outside the door of the building, telecommunications specialist Westermo had brought its mobile showroom and training centre, which was parked in the sun, attracting visitors as they arrived and as they left.

All in all, it was a very successful day. The programme was packed, the hall was full, and visitors had something to see and someone to talk with from the moment they arrived (or even before, if the Westermo team got hold of them). Organiser Kevin Lane said simply: “I’m really chuffed.” When pushed to say a bit more, he added: “There are lots of big names here, going around and seeing our exhibitors, so it’s been a great success. Chuffed covers it.”

The next RVE event is already planned – 6 October 2016 at the Riverside Centre in Derby. So if you’re involved in Rail Vehicles and Enhancement, put the date in your diary. And if you didn’t exhibit this year, but should have done, Kevin has about six spaces spare…

Article was first published in Rail Engineer November Issue 133