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Haigh Rail expands

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With a rapidly expanding client portfolio, following projects completed for Buckingham Group, National Express, Rhomberg Sersa and Midland Metro – as well as heritage work on Ribble Railway, East Lancashire Railway and North York Moors – Haigh Rail is already making a name for
itself as one of the industry’s foremost providers of high-quality, safe and inspected welding services.

Chris Haigh, managing director, started the business four years ago in 2011, undertaking track work and P-way projects. Since then Haigh Rail has grown, capitalising on a hand- picked, highly motivated workforce.

The company operates from offices in Chorley, Lancashire and Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

Safety first

To create and maintain a better railway, outstanding safety and outstanding workmanship must go hand in hand. All staff receive regular safety briefings which are led from the top down, in conjunction with the company’s health and safety representative.

Safety starts at the planning stage, where everyone who comes into contact with rail work is factored into the process: rail passengers, the general public, colleagues and all other companies involved.

Driving force

Chris Haigh started as a trainee technical engineer with Carillion – formerly Centrac, where he studied for a BTEC in civil engineering whilst gaining valuable on-the-job training. Haigh soon won his first promotion to supervisor/site manager, delivering major S&C renewals works on the West Coast Main Line. His career continued to develop at companies including Network Rail, Babcock Rail, Amey and Colas.

Having acquired a wealth of valuable industry experience, Chris Haigh decided it was time to pursue his vision of improving on the practices and procedures of the companies he’d worked for, providing outstanding workmanship to the rail industry. In 2011, he formed Haigh Rail.

The last four years have been a story of growth and putting into place the elements of the business with which to achieve his vision. Haigh Rail is currently tendering for a number of contracts which, if successful, will move the company forward.

An important step in the company’s progression was the appointment of an industry specialist, Dan Foster, who joined the organisation as the professional head of track renewal and maintenance. Dan brings with him over 17 years of rail experience, gained at major industry names including Carillion Rail, Babcock Rail and Amey Sersa.

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The best people in the industry

Recruitment is key to ensuring the company continues to expand by taking on the very best people from the industry. Chris Haigh has always taken a careful and considered approach to recruitment, choosing people based on their significant industry experience and their shared vision for building a better railway.

Professional head of welding Mick Downing was recruited to run the welding division in Doncaster. Mick is an all-round professional with 36 years’ experience amassed from major national P-way renewals, small private heritage railways and crane projects.

He has worked as welding manager or head of welding at a number of high- profile organisations, including British Rail, Trackwork Ltd, Carillion and Renown Railway Consultants Ltd.

At Haigh Rail, where Mick has worked since 2014, he is responsible for workforce development, with the aim of offering the best welding, grinding and inspection services in the rail industry. His job is also to support client health and safety.

Dan Foster has worked on some of the rail industry’s most challenging yet successful projects in the last 10 years. Haigh Rail knew it was a real coup when he agreed to join the growing business.

Finance manager Claire Webley gained valuable industry experience at Siemens, where she worked her way up from assistant project accountant to regional finance manager, showing a talent and work ethic that made her a natural for Haigh Rail. Working alongside Chris, Claire’s responsibilities are growing all the time as the company tenders for contracts with new high-profile clients and looks to recruit more industry talent.

Dan, Mick and Claire, along with the rest of the team, are instrumental in helping Chris Haigh to achieve his vision of building a better railway for Britain.

Haigh Rail is already making a name for itself as one of the industry’s foremost providers of high-quality, safe and inspected welding services. Next year looks set to deliver more continuous welded success for Haigh Rail.