Profiles

Profiles section

SE 151 a
Profiles

As the current operator of the train service between London and Kent, Southeastern has been making improvements, driving change and participating in exciting rail and station development programmes for the past 12 years

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HB 151 a
Profiles

Known for its original design solutions aligned with each city’s specific public transport infrastructure, HeiterBlick is a specialist supplier of customised light rail vehicles, gradually growing its influence across Germany

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TXM 151 a
Profiles

TXM Rail has earned the respect of the railway industry with its prioritisation of quality and strive for innovation, which has led to a spectacular growth since the company’s establishment in 2014

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CTS 149 a
Profiles

Cubic Transportation Systems delivers tools that enable travellers to choose the smartest and easiest way to travel and pay for their journeys, helping transportation authorities and agencies to manage demand across the entire transportation network

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NEX 149 a
Profiles

Having celebrated a productive and prosperous year in 2017, Nexus has begun 2018 in much the same way, delivering better public transport services to the Tyne and Wear area

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NR 148 a
Profiles

Network Rail is closing in on the completion of the £7bn government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, which will transform north-south travel through London and open up new opportunities for residents, commuters and visitors alike

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LO 148 a
Profiles

With plans for new trains, new services and a programme of station modernisation on the cards, London Overground has entered a year that it believes will help define the next stage of its future development

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Dat 148 a
Profiles

Never standing still

Datum was kept busier than ever by its clients in 2017, and expects to win more business in the coming years

As well as 20th Anniversary celebrations, 2017 was a year of astonishing growth for Datum, the UK’s leading supplier of phenolic GRP composites. Managing Director, David Taylor is clearly delighted with the fantastic year the company’s rail division had: “We doubled in size last year, which was a fantastic achievement for our team. We have worked a lot on our internal development, whilst continuing to deliver our products and services to our clients,” David begins. “We have improved our internal manufacturing systems and procedures. We have not only brought in some highly skilled people but have developed people internally. This has solidified the technical and QA support within our management team. The operations system has created a framework for us to manufacture within. Everyone knows what they should be doing and how it should be done. It has helped us scale and remain in control of our core competencies. I believe that if you are able to do that and stay competitive, you are going be in a solid position to win new business. It sounds simple, but it is not easy to put in practice but we are committed as a team and with continuous improvement and drive, we’ll reach our goals,” he reasons.

Alongside improving the operational processes, Datum have also invested in a new CNC machining centre, due to be commissioned in April 2018, and David explains why this was a significant decision for the company: “It is a state-of-the-art facility that will bring our tooling division to a whole new level. We will be capable of machining, single piece whole train front tools and when we couple that with the investment in GOM inspection capabilities, we have ‘best in class’ manufacturing from start to finish. We can take a customer’s initial concept right through to the finished part. I expect this to significantly help our growth.”

Datum recorded another impressive achievement it had set as a goal early in 2017, when the business began developing in the prepreg phenolic market. “Prepreg is a slightly different method of manufacture to what we are used to. There have been developments in new prepreg phenolic materials developed specifically for rail, and working with key suppliers we became one of the first companies in the UK to process this innovative material. We have invested in a press tool, which is dedicated to this type of manufacture and is significant step forward in widening our processes. The advanced material will help us reach a higher standard in the products we manufacture, reduce production time and costs, and increase our productivity. It is more suitable for higher volume part production. Our clients are already showing interest in the new technique and while it needs just a little push over the line to take off, I am confident that it will be a big success. It is a fantastic product that meets all the fire and safety specifications in the rail industry, and my feeling is that it takes the composites in the rail sector up to the modern era, because it is a very innovative product, which is exactly the type we want to use,” David enthuses.

David is keen to speak about the company developing its manpower, as well as what he calls a crisis in the employment of skilled staff. “We try our best to run apprenticeships programmes for school leavers. We train to upskill people internally, through on-the-job training schemes, but it is becoming very difficult to send the apprentices anywhere locally for specific training needs in the disciplines we require. We are responding to the crisis as best we can but we really need change / support from the highest levels. Datum aim to ensure that we pay competitive wages and the new factory has created a nice working environment, but it seems like a ubiquitous problem, because I hear about it at every forum I attend. The UK educational system has been skewed far too much to the academic side, whereas disciplines like engineering and the craft trades have been ignored,” David maintains, while noting that a company is only as good as its people.

Despite the challenges in the labour market, Datum is in a pole position for the near future, and David is enjoying the direction the company is going in, at the moment. He shares his expectations for further growth in the next couple of years. “We are well-positioned with our key clients and we see that there are many new opportunities coming up for new projects where new vehicles may be preferred over refurbished ones. Recently Alstom and CAF along with Hitachi have set up significant manufacturing facilities in the UK, proving the big OEM manufacturers have a real confidence in the UK market. Datum cannot be complacent but the sector is strong and I see a very positive future,” he assures us.

His words were confirmed in January 2018, when Datum secured the biggest contract in its history. Bombardier, a leading manufacturer of planes and trains, has placed a multimillion pound order for the company to manufacture 222 Cab fronts for its East Anglia, Aventra project. This contract is key evidence of how large UK infrastructure contracts can cascade down and support the UK supply chain, creating jobs and opportunities to train the next generation of engineers and secure the future success of the business.

“The focus for the next couple of years is to keep doing what we are doing and do it well. My wish is to further develop the management team, along with our operational procedures and get us to the next level. I would like to take the number of 90 employees across the site, up to 110-120, and cement Datum as the go-to manufacturer of cabs, toilets, and other interior GRP products,” David concludes.

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FR 148 a
Profiles

The FUTUre RAil (FUTURA) project is creating brake discs that are not only cost-effective, safe and green, but will also improve the quality of life of those living near railway tracks

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HRE 147 a
Profiles

Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) is a global transport specialist with over 100 years of experience building pioneering trains, offering quality maintenance and developing innovative new technology

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