For this generation, by this generation
Harry Burr visits the Rail Forum

Harry Burr visits the Rail Forum

Harry Burr, Young Persons Ambassador for the Rail Forum, visited last week to spend two days with the Forum.

Harry has written a blog post with details about his visit:

This week, I stayed in Nottingham for two nights so I could spend some time with the Rail Forum, of which I am their Young Persons Ambassador. On Wednesday, I headed up to Leeds to their Stations of the Future event, and on Thursday, I went to Derby with Elaine for some company visits.

I think we were all surprised by what was in store for us on Thursday. The first part of the Stations of the Future event took place in the Shoosmiths offices outside Leeds station, where we learnt about what stations could look like in the GBR era, and how changes are being made now, mainly at Leeds City, to continue enhancing stations.

Afterwards, we were taken around Leeds City station by the Station Manager. The railway came to Leeds for the first time in 1854, when Leeds Central railway station opened. This station closed in 1967, and traffic was diverted to what we now know as Leeds City station.

We were all under the impression that we’d just get a tour of the public levels of the station – and we did – but we also were taken very underground, down what could be described as pretty dodgy stairs. Once we were underneath the station, we were taken round the very expansive area, probably enough to fit another Leeds City station (if someone really wanted to do that!)

A concourse-sized room underneath Leeds City station. Network Rail have ambitions to turn this into a new Cycle Hub.

Overall, the Stations of the Future event was really insightful to me and many others, and the visit was just fascinating. I’ll never think of Leeds City station the same again!

The next day (yes, two days in a row!) I met Elaine in Derby, and we did some visits to Rail Forum members. We started with Alstom at Litchurch Lane, where, after a meeting, we were accompanied by Kathryn Lancaster for a tour around site, taking a look at (mainly) new Aventra trains being constructed.

Kathryn and Harry stood in front of a c2c Aventra being built.

I don’t think, unless you’ve been to a similar site before, how much time and effort you’d realise goes into building and testing these trains. And everyone at the site are so safety-conscious, too. Kathryn was a great guide, and I learnt a lot about the process!

After a short drive through Derby, Elaine and I visited TrainFX, a rail technology company that specialises in passenger information systems and crew communications. I’ve found, throughout my role as Chief Executive of Sustainable Transport Midlands, that passenger information is vital if we’d like to increase modal shift to public transport from the car. If it’s not easy-to-understand and in English, then it won’t attract people to switch!

Andrew and Harry taking a look at one of the Darwin-connected passenger information displays.

With this in mind, it was really interesting to see how passenger information systems work behind-the-scenes, and the types of systems that can exist. I met Andrew Wakefield, Operations Manager at the company, who explained to me that there’s a certain PRM regulation that requires Passenger Information screens to have certain text sizes, colours and fonts.

After a trip to Greggs (some of you may know that I love Greggs…) we went to see Resonate, whose office is conveniently right next door to Derby railway station! Robert Cooper gave us a great tour of the office, and we had a chat with some of his colleagues and I learnt exactly what they do. I wasn’t too sure when Elaine explained what they did in the car, but Rob was a great guide and helped me understand exactly what they do (Traffic Management!)

Rob was really welcoming of Elaine and I, and we ended up sitting in their offices for quite a while having a chat, and ensuring my train wasn’t cancelled! Overall, the last two days have been really great. Elaine and the Rail Forum team have been super welcoming of me, and I look forward to working with them in the future to promote young people in the industry.

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