Partnerships, skills and supply chain dominate debate at Porterbrook’s Supplier Conference

Porterbrook, the rolling stock asset management company, welcomed suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders from across Britain’s railway at its second annual Supplier Conference in Derby on 22 May 2019. The conference was attended by more than 200 delegates from over 100 companies. Debate focused on the biggest challenges and opportunities facing today’s railway as it gears up for increasing demand over the coming decades, and as it invests and innovates to improve passenger satisfaction and service reliability.

Mary Grant, Porterbrook CEO, said:

“Our entire industry is focused on delivering a better, more reliable service for all our customers. That comes with more investment, more innovation, and more creativity. It also comes with people and partnerships. Without our people, without their skills, we cannot deliver on our mission. At the same time, collaboration is key to our success. We must work across our entire supply chain and with all our customers to deliver a better railway, be that by harnessing technological know-how and IP from Britain’s world-class universities, developing low-carbon solutions with manufacturers, or sharing data and data analytics with train operators. Ultimately, this all has to be for the benefit of our end-customers, the paying public. Passengers deserve a quality, reliable service that’s fit for the 21st Century. Let’s work together to deliver that.”

Speakers from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Transport (DfT), the National Skills Academy for Rail, Northern Rail, Unipart and other organisations debated the need to plug the gap in rail skills, with an estimated 100,000 vacancies opening up over the next ten years. Speakers and delegates also discussed:

  • The importance of delivering a reliable service for passengers: high-quality trains that run on time, that meet capacity demand, that can keep passengers connected
  • The need to promote well-resourced, well-conceived apprenticeships
  • How to help SMEs to develop their own apprenticeship programmes
  • Boosting diversity, including more female participation in the railway’s workforce
  • Increasing SME participation in the railway supply chain, including DfT’s target to increase its own SME spend from 22% to 33% of overall budget by 2022
  • Harnessing new technologies such as big data and digitalisation to facilitate predictive maintenance, reduce downtime and improve reliability

Anvesh Prasad, Head of Procurement at Porterbrook, said:

“At Porterbrook we are only as strong as our supply chain. We already work with many SMEs, helping to sustain thousands of jobs. Working closely with our partners means we can implement better and faster solutions for our customers, in turn helping them to deliver a better, more reliable service to passengers.”