Every two years, the British railway industry gathers for the Railtex exhibition. The 2017 version, the thirteenth such event, took place in May at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. However, it’s not as exclusively British as it used to be. This year, 13 per cent of the visitors (nearly 10,000 attended over the three days) came from 50 foreign countries, while almost 100 of the 475 exhibitors were also based in 23 countries outside the UK. This reflects the success of the UK rail industry, and the attention it is getting from overseas manufacturers and operators.
There was much to see and do at the show. Over the three days there were keynote speeches, technical presentations and project reports to attend as well as all those stands to visit and experts to quiz.
The leading event
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, opened the show. Introducing him, Stephen Brooks, chairman of exhibition organiser Mack Brooks, welcomed visitors to the “leading event for the railway industry in the UK”.
“Coming here, it’s always fantastic to be reminded of the breadth and depth and passion that runs right the way through the supply chain, and you can see that just wandering around,” Paul Plummer enthused. He then added his vision for the future of the industry: “We need to be working as one railway, as one team working together, competing together, to enable innovation, for customers and for the economy, because Britain does run on rail.”
Darren Kaplan, the new chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, commented that he had heard both ministers and officials saying that the industry needed one voice for the sector. He didn’t agree with that. “We need many voices lobbying for the sector,” he said. “There are many different nuances for the sector, for rail, and the more voices we have the better. The trick is to make sure they are complementary voices, but if you have things to say, don’t be afraid to lobby.”
Later on the first day, Paul Plummer returned to the Rail Engineer Seminar Theatre to deliver his keynote address to around 250 people. He also returned to his subject of working as one team.
“The public perceives that there is a lack of leadership across the industry,” he said. “They see things not being joined up, they see things being inconsistent, so we need to address that. I don’t think for a moment that means we need single person in charge, it doesn’t mean we need to lose the identity of different companies, it doesn’t mean that we need to diminish competition or discourage innovation but we do need to coordinate and present a more common narrative about the future of the railway.”
With the ‘purdah’ regulations before an election having an effect, Network Rail’s managing director for Infrastructure Projects (IP), Francis Paonessa, limited himself to looking at how the company had performed on recent projects and the current workbank. Some interesting statistics emerged. Last year Network Rail delivered £6.6 billion of new infrastructure, either in renewals or enhancements, of which £5.7 billion was delivered by Infrastructure Projects.
“It’s an enormous amount of work,” Francis commented. “That represents 13 Olympic stadiums being built on the live railway. And a recent study that was carried out for us by Nicholls said that we actually deliver 22 per cent of all UK infrastructure or, if you consider it another way, four per cent of all UK construction and that includes house building and all general construction – it’s a huge number.”
Thursday’s keynote was delivered by Andrew McNaughton, technical director of HS2. In reviewing the project, and what it entails, he commented that it wasn’t about the train. “The train, and the railway, is just a means to the end,” he stated. “The cross-party support for high-speed two is anchored in being the means by which people travel between our rapidly growing metropolises for the next 150 years. It is anchored in a new generation of skills in railway construction, in civil engineering, in railway systems and then in operations. It’s anchored in bringing people closer together at an affordable price.”
No sooner had Andrew finished speaking in the Rail Engineer Seminar Theatre than he hurried off to the Knowledge Hub at the other end of the exhibition. He was to deliver a keynote there too, in place of an HS2 official from the Department for Transport who had cancelled due to the election.
This time, he spoke about how the contracts for the construction had been or would be awarded, and how the project would go forward. “Challenging but deliverable,” was his description. Phase one (to Birmingham) has a fixed price, £22.2 billion subject to inflation, and that isn’t going to change.
“We have committed to Government that we shall bring it in for no more than that price, and we will,” Andrew stated, confidently.
Gordon Wakeford, chairman of the Rail Supply Group, had spoken in the Knowledge Hub on the opening day. “Let’s start with some good news,” was his enthusiastic opening. “We have a lot to celebrate in today’s railway. 124,000 people employed in our industry, turning over some £7 billion per annum and adding value of £3.8 billion. That’s something we should really be proud of as UK Rail.”
Seminars and presentations
There were many other speakers in both auditoriums over the three days. In Rail Engineer’s Seminar Theatre, a total of 21 companies, large (Alstom, Hitachi, Siemens) and small (Bakerail, MRL/Aerialtronic), presented their latest innovations and technical achievements. Show visitors heard about trains, track, drones, BIM, adhesives, Wi-Fi and electrification. It was a wide-ranging and fascinating selection.
In the Knowledge Hub, on the other hand, industry figures spoke on middle-east projects, railway technology, skills, better behaviour, diversity and logistics. ‘The Platform’ panel sessions addressed productivity and industrial strategy, rail infrastructure and the Midlands Engine.
Of course, good though the various presentations were, the exhibition is what those 10,000 attendees came to see. 472 exhibitors moved into the NEC over the course of the previous weekend, 150 exhibiting at Railtex for the first time. By Monday night, there were only a few latecomers still worrying over their displays as the aisles were filled with wooden boxes, discarded packaging, bits of wiring and general detritus.
By 7am the following morning, three hours before opening time, all was pristine. It’s always impressive how, overnight, teams of cleaners can transform a building site into a world-class industry exhibition.
Queues started to form at the entrance before 9:30 and, soon after 10, the show was humming as visitors made their way to the first stands on their chosen ‘hit list’.
So what did they see? The aforementioned 472 exhibitors occupied 382 stands, some small shell-scheme boxes and others fanciful bespoke palaces. There just isn’t room to mention every company in this review, so here are a few impressions.
Rail Media at Railtex
Of course, Rail Media was there in force. Rail Engineer planned and managed the Seminar Theatre. Three keynotes, one on each day, and 21 exhibitors took the stand, introduced by the author as well as editor David Shirres, signalling and telecoms specialists Clive Kessell and Paul Darlington, and infrastructure writer Chris Parker.
Rail Media’s stand was mostly given over to promote the RailSport Games. Coming up in July, this will pit railway companies against each other in ‘the Olympics of Rail’. Held at world-famous Loughborough University, it will be popular with spectators as well as sports enthusiasts.
On the stand itself, visitors could have a go at darts (one of the RailSport games) as well as
talk with writers from both RailStaff and Rail Engineer magazines.
The Recruitment Wall, powered by railway job board RailwayPeople, drew exhibitors, recruiters and potential candidates alike. Exhibitors could advertise vacancies for free, and many did – who said there are no jobs around at the moment?
Rail Forum East Midlands
The Rail Forum East Midlands, which now has over 150 member companies nationwide, initially planned to return to Railtex with modest exhibition space. However, this quickly evolved as the Forum joined forces with member companies Design & Analysis Ltd, Datum Ltd, Birley Manufacturing Ltd and the University of Derby to assemble a stand complete with 3D printing, virtual reality kit, a toilet module and cab front. Thus, it would be fair to say that the Rail Forum East Midlands stand was a hive of activity!
The concept enabled businesses, who may not have exhibited in their own right, the opportunity to have a strong presence at the show, and learn about each other’s offerings in more detail. Delegates from the exhibiting organisations joined the Forum team each day, and a selection of other member companies came aboard as and when they were able. All those we spoke to commented that they had gained significant leads during their time at the show, and all have agreed to return for Railtex 2019.
The big boys (and girls)
The major train manufacturers had large stands. Alstom showed several product ranges, including signalling and trains, and launched its new CLever Cantilever for overhead electrification.
Siemens had a large stand on which new technologies such as augmented reality were being demonstrated, while Hitachi had constructed a stand with a roofed-over area set apart from the rest of the open-plan design. To make discussions more intimate perhaps?
Stadler Rail was a new exhibitor, riding on the back of several recent train orders for the UK market. “We were very happy to exhibit our products at Railtex, this is the first time that we have the chance to introduce our rolling stock to the market in the UK,” commented Ralf Warwel, head of tenders and projects.
Voith had its new gearbox for diesel multiple units on show, and spoke abut it in a technical seminar. The first two installations are already saving money through reduced fuel bills for operator South West Trains, which refused to give them back at the end of the trial. Now that’s a recommendation!
CRRC, which states it is the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment, is committed to providing better and more comprehensive solutions for human mobility. These range from rail-based passenger and freight traffic, and its health management, to integrated urban rail solutions and operation services.
The products exhibited by CRRC included a standard EMU for China, vehicles for Beijing Metro line 14, a Zags tank wagon for France, coal and cement hopper wagons, an electric freight locomotive for Uzbekistan National Railway and a Malaysia ETS Intercity EMU.
Also for trains
Of course, there is more to the rolling stock industry than just the trains. There are train components, and equipment used for maintaining and overhauling them. Suppliers of both were well represented at Railtex.
FISA (Fabbrica Italiana Sedili Autoferroviari) used Railtex to promote its new showroom in Derby. With the UK having unique crashworthiness and fire-retardation requirements, the Italian seat manufacturer has now successfully passed a testing process to become a supplier to the UK market. This has resulted in FISA’s largest ever order from Stadler Bussnang – for 23,000 seats for the fleet of trains being manufactured for Abellio East Anglia.
Hepworth’s new filler spout (2101-WASH), manufactured in 316 stainless steel, has been precision designed and engineered in order to prevent the commonly occurring damage to standard caps. Broken cap chains, damaged hinges and missing caps are some of the issues which have long-term cost implications and these can now be prevented; the simple push and pull hinge handle makes the cap simple to use. The spout can be used for diesel, toilets, waste, wash fluid and water applications. Since the launch of the spout, Hepworth has parts being assessed for trial with Alstom in the UK and parts ordered for Vivarail.
Hoppecke Industrial Batteries – the leading specialist in industrial battery systems and
the largest battery manufacturer in European ownership – used Railtex-branded bears to raise £1,000 for Mental Health Awareness Week at the show. The company asked visitors to its
stand to make a voluntary donation to obtain one of its famous bears, which had been given a limited edition Railtex makeover. The original 300 branded bears went so fast that another 100 standard bears had to be brought in to cope with demand!
Jason Howlett, Hoppecke’s regional managing director – Northern Europe, said: “Not only were we able to demonstrate our great products – including the new high voltage lithium battery – and make lots of great leads at Railtex as usual, but people couldn’t get enough of our bears and we are delighted to have raised this money for such a worthy organisation as the Mental Health Foundation.”
PSV Wipers used the 2017 Railtex show to formally launch its new range of stainless steel rail wiper blades. Featuring prominently on the stand along with established wiper motor assemblies, two major customers were signed up to start using the new blades.
Sécheron is one of the world leaders for the design, manufacturing and supply of components and systems for rail mobility including rolling stock and infrastructure.
With more than 130 years’ experience in these fields, Sécheron has developed great expertise in switching and protection equipment for high voltage electric circuits, both for traction on vehicles as well as for traction power substations. To focus better on the UK market, Sécheron recently opened a service centre in Manchester.
Sella Controls, the new name for Hima-Sella, will continue its long-standing and successful relationship with Hima in Germany – as the OEM’s leading supplier of functional safety solutions – whilst investing further in the development of its own technologies. For instance, Sella Controls will be the new platform/ brand with which the company will market its innovative Tracklink® family of technologies and associated products, developed entirely in-house.
Solo Rail Solutions recently celebrated twenty-five years designing and manufacturing key components, rail interiors and doors. Formed in 1992, Solo employs 100 people at its Birmingham operation, manufacturing and supplying complete ceilings and heater kits for Bombardier and ready-to-fit carriage cubicles for Hitachi, amongst others.
Managing director David Hunt commented on the company’s presence at Britain’s premier railway industry exhibition: “Exhibiting at Railtex improved our perception to customers in them seeing how we truly provide a turnkey solution for multi-discipline rail projects. Whether it’s a light bulb, a speaker or a complete interior design and fit-out, we have the internal capabilities to handle every need. Railtex allowed us to demonstrate this.”
TSL-ESCHA, a global market leader of signal buttons and signal lighting in the public transportation area, has successfully developed “signalling with LEDs” – initially, LED lights for trains and emergency vehicles and, over the last few years, robust LED solutions for industrial applications.
At Railtex for the first time, visitors were able to see the latest LED illumination for door areas, especially the new strip light that, shortly after being launched, was implemented in a variety of customer projects. TSL’s well-known push buttons and proven signal devices were also displayed.
Depot equipment and supplies
Dold is a leading ISO 9001 approved European manufacturer of measuring relays, timers and interface relays for industrial, safety and railway applications, with a hard-earned reputation for service product reliability and performance.
At Railtex, the company offered innovative solutions to train maintenance depots for HV switchgear interlocking and trapped-key interlock access. Based on the Dold STS system, this flexible and compact modular system is very robust, easy to operate and enables safe interlocked access to hazardous areas. Dold offers depot managers and safety personnel a free assessment and key exchange plan options, which enables the system to be easily and ergonomically integrated into existing depot facilities.
ENAG, a first-time exhibitor at Railtex, received a great reception from rail depot engineers and technicians pleased to see a line of rugged battery chargers, dischargers and power supplies specially designed to meet their requirements. Intended for use in depots, ENAG equipment can be custom-made to suit a particular application by varying the output voltage/charging current, battery type and connectors.
Lindapter launched its new Type HD brochure and showcased its range of adjustable steelwork fixings that provide a faster alternative to drilling or welding, saving contractors’ time and money.
Over the course of the three days, Lindapter demonstrated its product capabilities in a range of connection applications such as overhead line equipment, station buildings, station fittings, facades, depots, low speed rails, rail bridges, access walkways and structural reinforcement.
Type HD is used to secure sections of rail or crane lines in low speed applications such as ground track, elevated rail and overhead gantries. Lindapter’s rail clip features a rotatable central component that provides lateral adjustability. It allows contractors to quickly and precisely align rails before securing them in position using standard hand tools. The clamps have high resistance to lateral loads and they are manufactured from SG iron with a range of protective coatings available.
The new brochure uses real-life case studies to demonstrate how the range of Type HD clamps provide a quick way to align and secure low speed rails, providing a strong, reliable and long- lasting connection.
Tidyco, the Derby-based supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic products to the UK rail industry for over 40 years, once again collaborated with Parker for the Railtex 2017 exhibition. The dual- branded stand demonstrated the partnership’s ability to increase rolling stock service life by up to 100 per cent through the supply and distribution of quality product innovations into the rail industry.
Products on display included hydraulic hoses and all associated components, pneumatic solutions, silicone hoses and attachments as well as the Transair system. Tidyco and Parker also enticed visitors to its stand with their Hose Doctor service provision. By partnering with the Parker Hose Doctor brand, Tidyco is able to provide national reactive hydraulic hose replacements – 24/7/365.
In addition, the Tidyco HVAC division provides a complete system design, install and maintenance package for all heating, ventilation and air conditioning requirements, perfect for rail depots.
Ultrimax, which has been providing solutions to the paint and coating industry for over 40 years, had a brilliant first time exhibiting at Railtex. Delighted to meet with customers, current and new, the team had plenty of thought provoking conversations with visitors from across Europe. The launching of the new Tuffalo brand was a definite highlight – with a roll of the Tuffalo Heavy Duty Protector Film on display, visitors could ‘touch and feel’, and take home their own samples.
Managing director Giles Hoare commented “It was a huge success for Ultrimax, and I look forward to supporting our clients as a specialist, reliable supplier to the ‘rolling stock’ refurbishment and repair industry.”
Unipart’s new Aqueous Guard made a great impression on the many visitors to Railtex as graffiti was wiped away from a train door using cleaning wipes that can be bought from the supermarket! The clear, ceramic-based coating makes any hard surface resistant to having dirt and grime adhere to it, allowing high standards of train presentation, both internally and externally, to be maintained with reduced cleaning time and cost. Enquiries were received from several major train operators with many taking up the offer of a free trial of Aqueous Guard to show the significant benefits in real life.
Zonegreen launched its new Points Converter, designed to power manual hand points within depots and sidings. The company reported that interest in its stand was unprecedented, and has led to numerous feasibility meetings being arranged for the forthcoming weeks. Zonegreen felt that Railtex was an ideal place to introduce its new technology and to reinforce the presence of its market-leading depot protection system.
Signalling and telecoms
The trains of today talk to the infrastructure, both to report their own condition to the depots and to interface with control centres as part of in-cab signalling systems.
Fenix Signalling managing director Craig Purcell was pleased with the success of Railtex. “It gave us the opportunity to chat informally to many of our existing clients as well as reacquainting with former contacts and meeting new people and organisations,” he commented. “We were excited and surprised with how busy we were over the three days. It was a fantastic event and the team here at Fenix Signalling will build on these opportunities in the months ahead.”
Moxa’s products are used in many different areas and applications in the field. The ability to talk to managers, developers, system integrators and users first-hand at Railtex is a great boon to giving wide and deep views of the industry and opens up those tracks and leads to follow that can so easily be missed.
This year, Moxa released two new key products to the UK rail market. The live demonstration for one of them, an IP67 rated, full HD, day and night IP camera suitable for external on-board train surveillance for applications such as Driver Moxa.
Controlled Operation (DCO) or pantograph monitoring, attracted much attention. The camera was shown working live in a fish tank with water fountain and floating rubber duck, all to showcase the ruggedisation and IP rating.
The second new product, a multiple wireless WAN communications router providing a combination of up to four Wi-Fi or cellular connections, was not so ingeniously displayed but still well received.
Rainford Solutions presented two of its rail cabinets on stand K65 – a new three-bay cabinet with IP65 protection which is currently awaiting PADS approval and a Vanguard® single bay cabinet with heat management, designed to meet IP55 protection.
Exhibiting at Railtex provided an excellent opportunity for Rainford to showcase its capabilities and products. The show also provided unique networking opportunities and featured an exciting programme of seminars. Overall, Railtex was a success for the Rainford team, generating new business enquiries, making new contacts and raising the company’s profile whilst learning all of the latest developments taking place within the rail industry.
Siemens launched its new Nexus Voice cab radio at this year’s Railtex exhibition. The radio is a significant upgrade from the company’s current SVR-400 model and includes a number of pieces of new hardware – with a new processing card, additional memory, accelerometer sensor card and two Long Term Evolution (4G, 5G, etc.) modules. This new hardware provides the platform to enable new applications to run on the cab radio, including Nexus Lodestar DAS, Nexus RCM and Nexus Connect.
Nexus Lodestar DAS provides a real-time driver advisory system, delivering route information and speed advice to drivers. Route data, timetable updates and temporary speed restrictions (TSRs) are all uploaded remotely to the system, utilising the Nexus cab radio maintenance terminal (CRMT). Nexus RCM is an in-service remote condition monitoring application, which detects track defects on three axis, either via the cab radio or on a stand- alone basis. Finally, using the existing on-board PA cable, the installation of Nexus Connect provides an Ethernet backbone for the train, with Ethernet Bridges situated in every carriage to distribute the wireless connectivity. For this application, the Nexus Voice cab radio system can be used as a media gateway, transferring data to and from the train.
Data and digital systems
Signalling and telecommunications aren’t the only railway systems to use electronic digital communications. Various monitoring, control and safety systems do as well.
D2 Rail used Railtex to showcase its services and promote creative, innovative solutions to the industry through dynamic 4D Animations. From discussions with industry health and safety leads and key alliance members, Railtex gave D2 Rail the platform to discuss its services and display examples of the company’s vision of the future.
Over the three days at Railtex, D2 Rail staff showed their competitive streak, posting photos of their stand on LinkedIn and tallying up the views at the end of each day, proving the impact of social media.
Edesix, a market leader in the provision of body-worn camera solutions, showcased how body cameras can tackle abusive and criminal behaviour. Sadly, both verbal and physical attacks on board UK trains and surrounding station areas are on the rise.
Richie McBride, managing director of Edesix, commented that body worn cameras are a proven way of tackling abuse for rail operators. “Body cams have been proven to change the behaviour of the public toward officers to a significant extent, helping to calm potentially aggressive confrontations and reducing incidents of violence. Also, not all stations have CCTV in place, and even where there are fixed cameras, body cams provide operators with the flexibility to move through the station and get on and off trains knowing there are no gaps in the coverage they can achieve.”
Socomec’s latest innovations in low voltage power solutions for safe, reliable and efficient railway infrastructure were on show at Railtex 2017. Highlights included the new rack-mounted modular UPS – Modulys GP. This is a three-phase modular UPS system designed for 19” rack integration across multiple applications. Easy to integrate and install whilst simple to manage and maintain, it provides maximum availability and power protection in a compact design – leaving space for other rack-mounted devices.
With ongoing investment in switchgear development, the Socomec Automatic Transfer Switch (ATyS) monitors the power supply to a critical system and – in case of failure – manages the transfer to the backup supply. It has been approved for use on London Underground as an integral part of a complete system in conjunction with AF Switchgear.
Synectis, the global surveillance solutions provider, highlighted solutions that pave the way for a more connected approach to security and surveillance.
Iain Stringer, sales and marketing director, commented: “There is growing interest right now in converging on-vehicle and infrastructure solutions to better protect and serve passengers at ALL stages of their journey. This was certainly evident in the conversations we had at Railtex.
“For example, whilst interest in recording capabilities and measures to guard against data loss remained hot topics, we received an enthusiastic response to the solutions we showcased that facilitate heightened integration and interoperability between network-wide safety, security and management systems. It was great to see the sector so interested in taking a more ‘joined up’ approach.”
Telent had three busy days at the NEC, with the traditional busy Wednesday truly hectic this year. The overall high level of engagement and interest made it clear that Railtex remains the focal point for UK Rail and Telent is going to need more balls (Rugby & Football) next time.
Throughout Railtex, Telent caught up with existing customers (often difficult to reach throughout the year) and met a large number of new prospects who were excited to hear how the company is keeping the UK and Ireland connected and protected, and how it is delivering innovation today with Arbitex (Telent’s CCTV analytics solution that is providing real world commercial benefits to the tube) and the transformative development of digital electricity with Voltserver.
York EMC Services was delighted to be able to talk to visitors about having added Radio testing to its list of UKAS accredited testing capabilities. With the advent of new and shifting technologies, not to mention changes in the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, the rail regulatory landscape is changing all the time. More and more embedded wireless technologies (intentional transmitters) are being Brady.
used in railway apparatus and infrastructure, so the need for York EMC Services testing and consultancy services, such as EMC management and control plans, is becoming increasingly critical in ensuring that the railways are functional and safe.
Cabling it all up
All of this electronic equipment, for whatever purpose, has one thing in common – cables. Miles and miles of cabling. So it’s hardly surprising that manufacturers of cables and cable accessories were much in evidence.
Brady Corporation, the identification specialist, presented its range of automated print-and- apply systems for durable cable sleeves and labels. The BSP45 Automated Sleeve Applicator prints and applies diesel-resistant, halogen- free sleeves a lot faster than the manual process widely used today, while the Wraptor Printer Applicator can do the same, but for self-laminating labels instead of sleeves. Using the manufacturer’s Data Automation app, serialisation and barcode data can be fed to both printer-applicators from a range of ERP-systems in order to largely automate cable identification, increase production output, and significantly decrease the applied cost of labels and sleeves.
Cablecraft, the UK’s only manufacturer of heat shrink and control panel trunking, supplies cable marking systems, cable accessories and cable management products, servicing the rail infrastructure, railway signalling and rolling stock industry. At Railtex, the company launched its 2017 catalogue and showcased a select range of Network Rail and London Underground- approved cable accessories and matched tooling from its Identify, Connect, Secure and Protect product ranges.
Flexicon debuted its UltraTM Demonstrator at Railtex. Designed to demonstrate the superior Ingress Protection performance offered by Flexicon’s cable protection, it uses Ultra fittings with three conduit systems. Subjected to dynamic load and continuous movement over the three days of the show, whilst submerged in a water tank, the conduits moved mesmerisingly back and forth. Thankfully, nobody was hypnotised by the movement of the conduits, but many people were impressed by its performance! Now with PADS approval, Ultra is ideal for protecting performance and safety critical cabling within the rail industry.
Silver Fox’s innovative labelling solutions were in action throughout the exhibition, including the Fox-Flo® UV Stable LS0H Tie-on Cable Labels, (now also compliant with EN 45545-2 standards) Heatshrink and Non-Shrink labels, Fox- in-a-Box, and many more!
Nick Michaelson, CEO of Silver Fox, commented: “Every time we go to Railtex, we go with modest expectations. So, our thanks to all the guests visiting us on our stand, together they made it another great exhibition!”
Tratos has secured new orders to supply its RS high temperature, extra flexible power cables, tested and approved to EN45545-2 (R15-HL3 maximum hazard level), for a new fleet of trains which will operate on the East Anglia train network. Designed and manufactured for long service life and harsh external environments, Tratos’ rolling stock cables, with special fire performance characteristics, will be supplied to Bombardier which will build the new fleet at its Litchurch Lane site in Derby.
Unitrunk’s stand at Railtex was significantly larger than it has been at similar exhibitions in the past due to a drive to prioritise the rail industry as a key sector for growth. This follows the installation of Unitrunk systems on high- profile projects such as the tunnels connecting Heathrow Express to the airport and numerous London Underground schemes.
All of Unitrunk’s cable ladder, cable tray, cable basket, channel and trunking systems, which were on display, are London Underground approved and suitable for use on both trackside and station installations across the Network Rail infrastructure.
The company’s EasyConnect cable basket, which has been re-engineered to provide tool- free installation without the need for couplers, proved especially interesting to visitors as it offers a robust and vibration-resistant solution that can reduce installation times by as much as a third.
There is still place for the more traditional forms of railway engineering. After all, the railway relies on its track, bridges and embankments, which all need rebuilding and maintaining, seemingly ever more frequently. However, to keep up with the demand placed upon them, engineers are using techniques that their forebears wouldn’t recognise.
ABG Geosynthetics saw a lot of interest in its Fildrain 7DD system to aid consolidation in earthworks. Widely used in the highways and other sectors, Fildrain is far easier to install than traditional gravel solutions, and reduces consolidation times by up to 80 per cent. ABG’s presence at Railtex resulted in requests from a number of engineering consultancies to find out how to apply this proven innovation to rail applications.
Anderton Concrete had two new products on display. Ander-Loc is designed to prevent the unauthorised removal of cable trough lids by securing each lid to the trough using two clips and a lid bracket – a simple but effective solution.
Also for use with Anderton’s range of concrete cable troughing, Ander-Fin is inserted into a pre-formed slot in the base of a trough unit. A Network Rail-approved cable tie with rubber sleeve can be attached to the fin and secured at regular intervals within the cable route, making quick removal of large lengths of cable, and therefore their theft, virtually impossible. Ander- Loc and Ander-Fin are patented designs.
The company also showcased its range of Dry Laid Retaining Wall systems that offer numerous solutions for both aesthetic and functional projects whilst significantly helping to reduce costs and time spent on construction.
ArcelorMittal, the world`s leading integrated steel and mining company, received a steady flow of visitors throughout the three days of Railtex, obtaining enquiries across a number of product segments. With the recent enhancement of a new state of the art rolling mill at its Gijon facility, and further substantial ongoing investment with the mill extension in order to produce long rail lengths up to 108 metres, ArcelorMittal is fully geared to play a major part in the UK and European markets.
On the IT front, company representatives from the UK and Spain introduced a new rail tool offering dimensional information, sectional profiles and an easy reference ‘length versus weight’ guide for all transport, groove, light and crane rails.
British Steel supplied the track for the Railtex on-track display, so visitors to the show could actually see lengths of the product, sitting on steel sleepers painted in British Steel’s natty orange house colour – a pleasant change from the more traditional ‘rust brown’.
The rail itself was the new corrosion-resistant Zinoco®, and show visitors could watch demonstrations as British Steel inspectors carried out checks as they would on the network.
ByteSnap Design highlighted its Bridge Bash demonstration, showing how LoRa can be deployed for status monitoring/reporting. It simulates a collision event between a train and a stationary object, such as a bridge or barricade. Acceleration data is collected from the stationary object by a remote monitoring system, which can be powered by a super low-power battery, and transmitted wirelessly to a receiving module. Using the receiving module, real-time information about the acceleration the object is undergoing can be processed and displayed to the user.
Mabey displayed the world’s first modular glass-fibre, reinforced polymer bridge, which was recently launched in conjunction with Arup under the brand name PedestaTM. Part-funded by RSSB, the modular bridge will be of particular interest to the rail industry, providing a safer alternative to level crossings where traditional pedestrian bridges cannot be installed.
Pre-engineered and fully customisable in its form, material and finish, the Pedesta is 70 per cent lighter than steel, enabling faster, safer and more efficient project delivery. Mabey Bridge CEO Michael Treacy commented: “What we have developed from Arup’s concept will change the game for our customers who tell us cost and ease-of-use come first.”
MRL Eye is the UK strategic partner of Aerialtronics, the commercial drone manufacturer based in The Netherlands, providing innovative inspection and monitoring services using the latest unmanned aerial vehicle, data collection and processing technology. Railtex 2017 saw the launch of the new Pensar camera, which features inbuilt data-processing technology that uses image recognition to intelligently analyse images. This opens up a range of possibilities in how infrastructure can be inspected in the future, which was the theme of ‘Intelligent Drones, Intelligent Infrastructure’, one of the presentations in the Rail Engineer Seminar Theatre.
Rosehill Rail, the leading level crossing systems provider, generated a lot of interest from UK and international companies for its new Interlocking RRAP system and its innovative new rubber edge beam at this year’s Railtex.
Designed specifically to accommodate irregular sleeper spacing, the Interlocking RRAP system is ideal for permanent, semi-permanent and temporary road/ rail access points allowing RRVs and other heavy machinery easy access to the track again and again.
Reflecting on a busy show, Rosehill Rail’s UK sales executive Daniel Snell said: “From the conversations we’ve had it’s clear that engineers are looking for innovative new products which help them improve efficiency and reliability, while minimising disruption and cost. Our new rubber edge beam is a good example of this.
By incorporating a service void, it helps to overcome the challenges of running cables at level crossings, ensuring cables are completely protected from accidental damage and vandalism, while allowing for ease of access to maintenance teams.”
Wavetrain aims to provide secure and affordable level crossing safety by ease of installation, use and maintenance. Its Level Crossing Warning System (LCWS) is an end- to-end SIL 2 certified product that detects approaching trains using SIL 4 certified acoustic sensors. The acoustic sensors are mounted on the rails and listen for the distinct sound waves generated by approaching trains. The digital data is analysed by a nearby control unit, which activates the customer’s preferred warning devices at the appropriate time.
Monica Myhre-Sandmark, lead designer at Wavetrain, also has an interesting outlook on exhibitions in general, and Railtex in particular.
“Giveaways are often the talk of any exhibition. To me this year’s best giveaway was a little teddy. I initially really wanted it as compensation for my two-year-old, who by the way still holds a grudge for me being away. I later found out the teddy was for charity, a good one too, but I was afraid to ask for it. When I finally plucked up the courage – the teddy was gone…
“We, however, did not think of teddy as a give-away. We deliver Acoustic Train Detection installed within 15 metres of the area that needs to be secured. A teddy simply did not enter our minds as a giveaway at all, so we ended up with the norm. Chocolate, from Norway at least, to starve away most of the home sickness and scare away anyone afraid of trying new things.
“Fast-forwards and I am back home, going through data and analysing results, writing e-mails, analysing the stand and information presented. We have previously attended the InnoTrans exhibition in Berlin. We had lots of interest and follow-ups post exhibit.
“When I look at the results from Railtex however, I was quite surprised. We were placed on the second row next to the food courts, quite high up and facing away from the crowds. In a way facing the wrong way! Although visitation was quite continuous, the fair seemed a bit sparse compared to InnoTrans, of course.
Visitors at Railtex were however, both more to the point, and several useful contacts. Level crossing managers, contract managers, safety managers, engineering managers, engineers – even business developers. Conversations were friendly and calm but still precise and direct. People complimented on our stand (hooray) and, and weren’t overly greedy in helping themselves to the ‘exotic’ Norwegian chocolate.
“Surprisingly, we did close to equally as well as the last exhibition, as far as we can see at this moment in time. The type of visitors may possibly be even more useful for us, if one can say such a thing. We would do it again, and perhaps there will be another good charity- teddy to take home too?”
Don’t forget the people
As well as on its infrastructure, the railway depends on its people. They turn out in all weathers to repair and maintain the network and the country would literally grind to a halt without them. Suppliers of PPE were at Railtex, showing off the latest ways to keep the workforce warm, dry and safe, and there were new tools for them to use as well.
Ballyclare used the show to reinforce its Network Rail win for waterproof and flame retardant garments. Also on show were the company’s brand new multinorm garments – DFRShell – giving true multi-hazard protection as they are the only high visibility RIS- 3279-TOM garments available that are fully waterproof, breathable, flame retardant, anti- static and anti-arcing.
While Bally Bear made a splash both at the show and on social media, 70 per cent of the visitors to the stand were new leads, interested in taking conversations forward over the coming weeks and months.
Pulsar uses Railtex as both an opportunity to launch new clothing items and as a way to meet customers and the industry wearers of high visibility clothing and get their feedback and input on what they want.
Railtex 2017 was no different. The Pulsar® Ladies range was launched, as was the new range of Active High Visibility Clothing, incorporating LED technology to enhance the visibility of the wearer in low or poor lighting conditions.
Both these new products were well received, and judging by the number of catalogues taken and leads received, there appeared to be a high level of interest in the entire collection.
Syntax Consultancy had “a fantastic show – the first time we had exhibited after numerous times attending. We conducted a piece of research while we were on the stand to understand what were the top staffing challenges in the Rail industry in 2015. Top of the list was attracting STEM graduates, followed by how we get more women interested in working in the industry, and the ageing workforce. We will be releasing the full analysis paper over the next few days and will be sending out to all who met us.”
TCP and BOC introduced the re-modelled Light Tower – the ‘world’s first’ silent running lighting product of its kind. Having enjoyed a successful start with the previous TH2 model, this lighting innovation has now been significantly re- designed and upgraded to produce the new
TH200. It boasts a continuous runtime of 120 hours using the four on-board hydrogen cylinders. The fuel cell is now encased within the main body of the machine and is controlled by a new operator-friendly switch pad, located on the exterior.
Carbon neutral at the point of delivery, silent running and producing zero CO2 and NOx, the TH200 is the ideal solution for environmental lighting applications.
Tyrolit, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of bonded grinding, cutting, sawing, drilling and dressing tools, exhibited an extensive range of its products, supporting this with a Swarovski crystal giveaway. One of the highlighted products was the newly improved Premium Cerabond ceramic cut-off wheel, now with a 40 per cent increase in performance, offering longer lifetime and shorter cycle times.
Account manager Mark Richards said: “Railtex is always a good show for us in terms of networking and generating new customer contacts. This year’s show was by far the best, with orders placed over the week doubling compared with previous years. The central location of the exhibition helps draw people in, the seminars and show are well attended. Railtex organisers offer strong marketing and promotional support before and after the show that allowed us to showcase our leading rail products to a wide customer base.”
Next year – Infrarail!
So that was Railtex 2017. The show only takes place every two years – in between, Infrarail, also organised by Mack Brooks, concentrates more on the infrastructure side to the railways – signalling, track, earthworks and structures. That’s not to say the odd train manufacturer doesn’t show up, but so do soil-nailing specialists!
Infrarail 2018 will take place next year on 1-3 May at London’s ExCeL. Book your hotel early and we’ll see you there!