RSG Decorate Rail exhibitions with the views of industry


  • RSG stand at Railtex and Rail Live
  • Delegates asked to write ideas on post-it notes about what would help their business grow
  • Post-its were then put on interactive boards
  • Need for SME support was common theme raised 
  • Other popular themes were: Raising awareness of the UK supply chain; continuity between control periods, the need for collaboration across the rail industry, and prioritizing British exports 

The Rail Supply Group had a great time at Railtex in Birmigham in May, and at Rail Live in June. Over five days in total, we met with delegates from across the rail sector and from a number of Government departments, including the Department for Transport and the Cabinet Office. Delegates had the opportunity to meet RSG members, including Chair Gordon Wakeford, and workstream lead Anna Delvecchio, The exhibitions were also an opportunity to raise awareness about how the RSG can represent and help the industry supply chain.

The RSG stands hosted an interactive engagement board split into four categories – Accelerating Innovation, Driving Growth, Developing Skills and Supporting Exports, representing each of the four RSG workstreams. Using large post-it notes, delegates passing the RSG stand were encouraged to stop and write a suggestion on a post-it note for the board. By the third day, the board was covered in post-it notes – over 100 in total.

The RSG stands

Recurring Themes

Delegates were encouraged to offer their thoughts on “what would make your business grow?” and all contributions were put on the interactive boards. With so many ideas and suggestions, the team have analysed the content and found that five main themes were repeatedly raised by delegates:

  1. Supporting SME’s

The most common theme was about the need for SME’s in the industry to be supported, with around 15% of all contributions raising the theme of supporting SME’s / new entrants into the market, in one way or another. There was a clear feeling among a number of delegates that there could be more focus on SME’s in the rail industry and that increasing the focus on SME’s would benefit businesses.

Example contributions included:

  • “Help for companies looking to work in rail: mentoring, guidance, help with approvals”
  • “Free access to Network Rail standards. For SMEs the charge for access is prohibitive”
  • “SME support rather than big project focus”

2. Raising Awareness of UK Supply Chain

Many delegates presented the view that promoting the UK rail supply chain abroad should be a priority for the rail industry, and that this needs to be done in an industry wide manner. This theme particularly applied to the “Exports” section of the interactive board.

Example contributions included:

  • “Present a united industry front to foreign buyers – like other countries do.” 
  • “Gov should help promote the UK supply chain to bid for big international projects.”

3. Control Period Spending

A handful of delegates stated that spending across control periods should fluctuate less, to allow more continuity. This theme particularly applied to the “Growth” section of the interactive board. Fewer post-it notes related directly to this theme than to the other common themes (five in total), but the five in question were almost identical in message.

Example contributions included:

  • “Stop the chasm in spending between control periods”. 
  • “Peaks and troughs / feast or famine. Plan right first time” 
  • “Remove CP transition. Chaos / uncertainty” 
  1. Prioritising UK Suppliers

Some delegates presented the view that the rail industry should focus on supporting UK businesses before looking abroad.

  • “UK companies first!” 
  • “UK SME’s first”
  • “Government should require minimum UK content for domestic UK rolling stock imports”
  1. The Need for Collaboration

There was also a recurring message from delegates on the need to focus on collaboration in the rail industry, which applied to a number of different areas.

Example contributions included:

  • “Acting as one unified industry – collective & collaborative approach.”
  • “Collaborative approach to delivering rail training”
  • “Encourage win-win collaboration, esp. between SME & SME / SME & BIGco

A Highly Worthwhile Experience

Chair of RSG, Gordon Wakeford said:

Railtex and Rail Live were both enjoyable experiences for all involved and we were delighted at the enthusiasm of delegates to engage with the question posed by the Rail Supply Group. All contributions made over the two exhibitions are valued and the contributions of delegates has helped us gain a better insight into the current feelings and opinions of those within the industry.”

RSG will now work with each of the workstreams to build on the findings of the exhibitions, in order to raise awareness of the concerns raised by delegates and continue work on how to address them going forward.

Thank you all for your input and support across these two events!

Notes to Editors

The work of RSG is separated into the four workstreams of Innovation, Growth, Skills and Exports.

Each of these four workstreams have distinct strategic goals which combine to further the overarching aim of RSG to act as a leadership body for the rail supply chain.

Innovation – RSG seeks to aid innovation in the rail supply chain, through assisting in the creation of new markets, services and products for UK rail expertise at home an abroad.

Growth – RSG seeks to support the creation of new jobs in businesses small and large across the country.

Skills – RSG seeks to help build tomorrow’s rail supply workforce,through training, upskilling and innovation.

Exports – RSG is aiming to double UK rail exports by 2020.

Part of the purpose of RSG’s work at Railtex was to gain advice and insight from people in the rail industry about what RSG can do going forward to meet the strategic goals of each of these workstreams, hence why the interactive board was separated in accordance with these themes.

If you would like to find out more about RSG please visit our website and follow us on twitter at: @railsupplygrp

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