The sight of Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, clad from head to foot in lurid orange hi-vis gear, addressing a crowd of railway staff at Rail Live 2014, will have alarmed friend and foe alike.
The honourable member for Derbyshire Dales stands accused of going native. ‘This is the first time I have addressed people wearing full PPE,’ he said. McLoughlin was speaking at Rail Live 2014 where £500 million pounds worth of railway equipment was on display.
If the RailStaff Awards needs a physical reflection and further proof that the rail industry is increasing in physical presence, strength and purpose, then this was it. Rail Media, which is staging the RailStaff Awards at Ricoh Stadium Coventry on 25th October, helped organise Rail Live 2014 along with MacRail, the Rail Alliance and Network Rail.
Like Mr McLoughlin railway engineers, fitters and technicians from every quarter of the industry were able to compare notes, watch each other giving demonstrations and discuss the rail industry.
Rail Live 2014 provided the physical evidence of an industry on the upswing. Statistics describing increased passenger and freight volumes, better performance and increased capacity are always encouraging but there’s northing like seeing huge new machines, engineering trains, trams and tampers up close and personal.
Equally inspiring was the orange army of railway staff of all sizes, descriptions and backgrounds, converging on what had once been a military airfield. Everyone at Long Marston, who worked so hard, deserves further thanks and recognition. Railways, and the people who build and run them, are making a direct contribution to the economic and environmental future of the country.
Confidence is always a slow build exercise. The conventional media is still content to pick out railway bad news, accidents, foreign takeovers and over running possessions instead of focusing on what has to be one of the most remarkable industrial turn-arounds of modern times. Nurturing confidence is essential for the well being of the people delivering the industry. To talk up the achievements of railway staff is to make a direct contribution to the continuing expansion of the new rail industry.
Rail Live 2014 was a huge out door exhibition and a statement of faith in railways. Its counterpart, the RailStaff Awards 2014, will be staged this year at the Coventry Ricoh Arena. It’s a bigger venue with 24 hour cafés and restaurants, lots of car parking, a hotel and an all night casino. Next year the Ricoh Arena should have its own railway station. The RailStaff Awards is a big party, a celebration of all that’s boldest and best in the industry, it is also a chance to meet friends and catch up. Above all it is a chance to say thank you to railway staff at all levels. Thanks, encouragement and support are the essential elements in any successful enterprise.
Nominations are open now and there’s advice on how to nominate colleagues on the web site. The RailStaff Awards 2014 is for the ordinary people, clerks, fitters, track workers and traincrew who routinely deliver far more than the job description stipulates. McLoughlin himself started life as a coal miner. He might not be in the running for any awards soon for sartorial elegance but his enthusiasm and support for railways is welcome news. The RailStaff Awards 2014 is a further exercise in support for the new rail industry and the dynamic efforts of all who work in it.