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Transport Select Committee MP makes ‘virtual’ visit to rail industry

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Several rail organisations have shown their efforts in combating Coronavirus in a virtual site visit with influential Transport Select Committee member Chris Loder MP.

Balfour Beatty, Movement Strategies, Network Rail and Ricardo Rail all took part in the ‘virtual visit’, demonstrating their work to ensure the rail network can keep moving key workers and resources, keep workers safe on site and support the NHS efforts to tackle Coronavirus.

On the call, the discussion included how:

  • Balfour Beatty spoke about their work with Network Rail on the Kilsby Tunnel, on the West Coast main line;
  • Ricardo Rail, which specialises in engineering solutions for rail as well as other sectors, and has turned its attention to producing vital PPE, including protective face shields for key workers in hospitals and care homes;
  • Movement Strategies, which specialises in people movement and location insights, has the vital skillsets required to enable safe travel in the era of social distancing;
  • Network Rail is continuing to deliver work on the Wessex route, whilst maintaining social distancing guidance.

The organisations, ranging from multinational organisations like Balfour Beatty to small and medium enterprises (SME) like Movement Strategies, showed how the rail industry is working as a united front helping the UK through the crisis.

 The virtual visit was part of the Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Rail Fellowship Programme, an initiative established in 2018 which brings politicians onto rail sites to help them develop an understanding of the on-the-ground workings of the industry. The Fellowship Programme is an important mechanism for ensuring politicians are in touch with key issues and workings of the industry.

While traditional visits are not possible due to Coronavirus, RIA has adapted to suit the times, continuing the programme virtually at a time when constructive dialogue between politics and industry is more essential than ever.

Transport Select Committee MP Chris Loder said: “It was great to take part in the Railway Industry Association’s Rail Fellowship Programme today and to be the first MP to take part in a ‘virtual visit’. I really appreciated the insights from companies across the industry as to how the railway is dealing with Coronavirus and the level of innovation to enable the railway to start the return to normal. I very much look forward to going out on site in the future.”=

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Rail suppliers are working hard to support the UK in addressing the Coronavirus outbreak, ensuring we can get key workers and resources to where they need to be, supporting the NHS’s efforts by manufacturing PPE, examining how transport can adapt for a post-Coronavirus future, and ensuring we are one of the key sectors spearheading the UK economic recovery in the months ahead.

“We are proud of the work being delivered by our members, in such varied areas, to support the national effort. The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is as vital as ever in these times, in providing rail suppliers with a platform to show what they do. So, we’re really pleased to host our first virtual visit and to show Chris Loder the incredible work our members are doing.”