Birmingham to lead the way at international rail conference

  • Birmingham to reinforce its reputation as the ‘rail city’ of the future
  • International rail companies being targeted on the back of HS2’s arrival

Birmingham’s burgeoning reputation as the ‘rail city’ of the future is set to build further this week when the city showcases its unrivalled rail assets at one of the world’s biggest transport trade fairs.

Representatives from inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham, and the University of Birmingham, will travel to Innotrans in Berlin to tell would-be rail investors from around the world that the city is fast-becoming a world-leading community of rail expertise.

They will also hold face-to-face meetings with major rail companies at a prestigious networking breakfast being hosted by The British Ambassador to Germany and supported by the Department for International Trade.

David Fisken, Head of Business Attraction at Marketing Birmingham, said Birmingham’s position as an investment hotspot for the rail industry was stronger than ever:

“The UK Government is investing over £38 billion to continue the mainline railway’s success story and there is an overall commitment of £88 billion in the rail infrastructure pipeline.

“Nowhere is that more apparent than here in Birmingham where HS2 is already acting as a catalyst and helping attract major investors such as Jacobs Engineering.

“Additionally, the city will be home to the National College for High Speed Rail, which will open in 2017 and will provide Britain’s workforce with the specialist training, skills and qualifications to build HS2 and other future rail infrastructure projects.

“Other infrastructure projects here such as the Metro tram extension, along with a really expert supply chain, makes Birmingham an incredibly attractive investment destination for international rail companies.”

Professor Clive Roberts, Professor of Railway Systems and Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at University of Birmingham, said:

“The University has a long history of railway education and research but the recent renaissance in railway construction, both in the UK and internationally, and advancements in railway technology, have enabled us to grow BCRRE activities significantly.

“Nowadays BCRRE is a group of 135 researchers and nearly 200 masters and undergraduate students who work in a broad range of railway systems engineering activities.

“We currently undertake research around the world, with particular focus in the UK and Europe, South East Asia and China to optimise the design of new railways, and develop technology and processes to reduce the life cycle cost of existing systems.

“We are working in partnership with the National College for High Speed Rail to help develop course curriculum, and we also work with the SMRT Institute in Singapore. These new activities will lay the foundation to educate the next generation of railway engineers around the world”.

Sir Terry Morgan, chair of the corporate board for National College for High Speed Rail which has an additional campus in Doncaster, is also due to attend the breakfast event and said:

“The National College for High Speed Rail is progressing at an excellent pace and I am delighted that construction is well underway on both sites in Birmingham and Doncaster.

“The College will have a major and hugely positive impact on the ability of the rail industry to develop a multi-skilled specialist British workforce, capable of building HS2 and future infrastructure projects.

“It will be a catalyst for growth in both Birmingham and Doncaster that will bring new investment into each city and provide highly skilled jobs for local people.”

The city’s presence at Innotrans follows Birmingham City Council Leader John Clancy’s recent tour to China where he met investors and developers keen to take advantage of the arrival of HS2, which puts Birmingham at the heart of a high speed rail network linking London to the North.

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