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PERMANENT WAY & INFRASTRUCTURE


National Track Plant Exhibition


On July 24-25, thousands of track workers from across the industry – and from across the world – gathered at Long Marston in Warwickshire for Network Rail’s National Track Plant Exhibition. The event was the biggest it’s ever been, and featured live demonstrations of a whole host of plant and equipment. RTM’s Adam Hewitt was at the event, and spoke to the man in charge – Network Rail track director Steve Featherstone.


T


he sheer amount of kit on display at the National Track Plant Exhibition was the


equivalent of five years’ worth of site visits in just two days, according to Steve Featherstone.


Network Rail’s programme director for track was full of praise for the supply chain for pulling together to put on such a good show at relatively short notice, with nearly 4,000 visitors and exhibitors in attendance to see around 175 rail vehicles of all sizes, plus countless pieces of equipment, displays and stalls, all under gorgeous sunshine.


A vast variety of plant was on show, from simple cranes to


autoballasters,


excavators, sleeper spacing


shunters,


vehicles, fast


to provide generators, check-in, security and so on, Featherstone said. “I was chatting to some of the guys last night and they said that even if no-one walked through the gate today or tomorrow, the event is worthwhile just in the engagement there’s been during the setting up, with all the suppliers talking to each other, from the tier 1s to the SMEs.”


“ I suspect that a lot of the technology and innovation used at Long Marston will become commonplace.”


clipping machines, a tamper lorry, a flash butt welder, personnel carriers, track relaying gantries and far more.


‘The industry pulling together’ Competing with Innotrans and iaf


Speaking to RTM on the first day of the show at Long Marston in Warwickshire, Featherstone said: “It’s the industry pulling together; nobody’s charged anything and everyone’s contributed and helped out.


“There are 219 suppliers here: this is my whole supply chain, effectively, in a big field.”


The exhibitors themselves showed off their expertise in their business areas by chipping in


46 | rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 13


Featherstone said the plant exhibition had “outgrown” the previous venues – it has previously been held at Network Rail’s own Westwood site and in Gloucestershire – and said this year’s exhibition had managed to fill most of the 102 acres at the Long Marston site.


He said he expects it to grow and grow, and to compete with major global shows like Innotrans in Berlin and iaf in Münster.


The exhibition is ‘live’ for the first time, with suppliers taking advantage of the site’s rail- connectedness to show off the kinds of plant they have never been able to deliver by low loader in previous years, and all visitors having to wear full PPE.


That includes things like the rail-mounted Railvac and MFS wagons, he said – “You couldn’t bring those


into a field without rail connectivity. By going rail-connected we were able to bring in a lot more stuff for people to see and appreciate.”


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