News & Case Studies

10 July 2019

The Rail Alliance launches new Composites Network

The Rail Alliance has long supported the Advanced Materials and Composites community and we have now taken a step forward in establishing our Composites Network for members of the Rail Alliance Community with a specific interest in this field.

With renewed focus on efficiency and embedded value, the UK railway is in an unprecedented state of transition. The new Control Period 6 brings significant investment through renewals and enhancements for the existing network and with the HS2 project also firmly underway the rail sector will offer its greatest opportunities yet for market entry. Whole Life Value being at the heart of procurement decisions, sustainability, light-weighting, off-site construction and other targeted efficiencies augur well for new materials and processes for infrastructure and rolling stock specifications.

We are acutely aware however of how challenging the rail industry has been in this regard, in particular with its cautious approach to the uptake of technology that is well-established in other sectors. Supported through our new position within the BCRRE and UKRRIN, the Rail Alliance is committed to working with our Community to identify what is needed to create a pathway to change and to directly address this and we are pleased to have the backing of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In addition, we have drawn into the group significant interest from Network Rail that should guide and assist this process in terms of infrastructure buy-in.

Martin Little, Rail Alliance Commercial Director, Rail Alliance, said, “Composites and its application to the railway – whether for rolling stock or infrastructure, is something the Rail Alliance has focused its attention on in recent years in line with the growing interest and demand from supply chain. There is broad mix of companies within the Rail Alliance community, including organisations from other sectors, such as aerospace and automotive, and now with the integration with BCRRE firmly in place, the natural next step is to create a dedicated group as a means to pool together specialist knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the rail sector.”

Eddie Blackett, Consulting Engineer, Complete Composite Systems Ltd said, “There is a growing appetite to apply composites in rail projects with capex and opex costs being a key driver in this process. If the UK is to recapture its position as a global leader, it is imperative that knowledge and expertise from other sectors and overseas collaborations is benchmarked for best practice and utilised for the UK rail sector.”

Mike Noakes, Head of Rail at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said, “BEIS is pleased to support the creation of the Network and excited to continue its work alongside the composites industry to help broaden its reach into sectors and markets where there is potential for expansion.”

Further information and how to join the Rail Alliance Community and the Composites Network can be found on the Rail Alliance website.


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