Morson Group were proud co-sponsors of the recent National Rail Conference on Tuesday 1 November at the Midland Hotel, Manchester.
The conference’s core theme was the Northern Powerhouse, and the increasing investment in the rail infrastructure of the region. While HS2 was certainly a talking point, the main discussion centred around how the rail industry serves other areas of the country outside of a faster link to London.
The conference was opened by Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne, who in his keynote speech discussed the long-term expansion and investment plans for the north of England, and how the industry is transforming to better meet customer needs. In his presentation, he talked about the desire to see up to £6billion of investment into the northern rail infrastructure by 2022, including electrification and improved connectivity.
After a presentation from Henrik Anderberg, Alstom’s MD (Regional and Intercity) and HS2 director on the benefits of the planned line and the technology involved, the afternoon featured further talks on the role of freight in the north. There was also a presentation on what passengers are looking for by Stephen Joseph from the Campaign for Better Transport.
Gary Smithson, Morson’s associate rail director, commented “It was great to be associated with such a wide-reaching event. While Morson International are widely known in the industry from a human capital point of view, it was great to see how well received the capabilities of our sister company Morson Projects were.”
Morson Projects presented the delegates with specialist drone technology [click here to watch] which uses aerial photos in conjunction with point cloud and gaming technology to create 3D models that can be virtually explored. This technology is particularly useful for landscape networking, modelling changes and asset care, which proved popular among the guests.
Morson’s operations director Adrian Adair was on the Q&A panel alongside Jim Steer of Steer Davis Gleave, leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese, Bill Reeve of Transport Scotland and Jo Kaye of Network Rail. He was particularly interested in the wider benefits of the increased mobilisation of talent that investment would bring.
“Connecting cities is particularly important. From a Morson point of view, this works two-fold because the projects themselves provide increased manpower requirements of which we are a key provider, but also because better links mean better access for talent across all sectors.
“It was great to see how the industry is really engaging communities – an example would be Alex Hynes’ presentation and how the benefits are seen throughout in terms of apprenticeships and offering discounted tickets for job seekers. It’s not just talk either – we have seen real-life operating examples of this innovation.
“One key concern across all projects is that we face a skills shortage, and we must all work to address this issue.”
Marie Rayner, Morson’s head of process, was particularly interested in the ongoing projects discussed at the event, and the workforce that will be required. “As with all rail improvements, manpower is absolutely critical and developing an improved understanding of the plans for the north supports the skills pipeline and resourcing strategies that we will utilise moving forwards.”
“The Q&A sessions further emphasised the need for a robust and skilled workforce, which Morson is in a key position to provide.”