Skip to main content
Top of the Page

Noel Travers appointed new RIA Chairman 

13 May 2024 


The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is pleased to announce that – following a competitive interview process – its Board has appointed Noel Travers as RIA’s new Chairman. He succeeds David Tonkin, who is standing down after seven years in the post, and will start in post on 3 June, chairing his first Board meeting later that month.

Noel – the MD of international railway engineering solutions and services firm, and RIA member, XRail – has extensive experience and deep knowledge of all aspects of the railway industry, including infrastructure, rolling stock and the supply chain. Noel served on the RIA Board from 2018 to 2021 and as Chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Railway Division between 2022 and 2023 which reflects his commitment to engineering excellence and professionalism. He intends to split his time between his role at Xrail and the role of RIA Chairman.

Commenting on his appointment Railway Industry Association (RIA) Chairman-elect Noel Travers said: “It is a great honour and privilege to become Chairman of the UK’s oldest and most distinguished railway trade association, especially as it approaches its 150 Year Anniversary in 2025.

“Both the start of a new Control Period, CP7, and a new post-election Government, whatever its colours, this year are real opportunities to restate the hugely important role the UK rail supply sector plays in creating jobs and GVA across the national economy, as well as supporting innovation and skills in rail. I look forward to working with Chief Executive Darren Caplan, and the full RIA team, to play my part in helping to take RIA to the next level for its members and to build a bigger and better railway industry at this pivotal moment in the history of UK rail.”

Railway Industry Association (RIA) Chief Executive Darren Caplan added: “I am delighted on behalf of the RIA Board, members and team, to welcome Noel to RIA as our incoming Chairman. Noel has decades of expertise and insight from across the rail supply chain and will bring great perspective and insight to our Board deliberations and strategic direction going forward. 

“I also wish to place on record our immense thanks to outgoing Chairman David Tonkin who has provided outstanding leadership and support to the Board, the RIA team and myself during his tenure. We wish him well as he retires from rail and pursues other interests.”

Outgoing RIA Chairman David Tonkin said: “It has been a privilege to serve as RIA’s Chairman these last seven years, and to be involved with RIA in various roles and as a member for many years before that.

“RIA has an incredibly important role, representing its members and helping them to navigate all manner of challenges and opportunities. Having played my part as its Chair since 2017, it is now time for a new Chair to take up the cudgels and I am delighted that Noel Travers – who has served on the RIA Board previously – will be my successor. I wish him, Chief Executive Darren Caplan, and the RIA team the very best in taking RIA forward in to its 150th year, and the next stages of its development.”

Notes to Editors


1. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has over 360 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number).

2. Noel Travers biography:

  • Noel is MD of international railway engineering solutions and services firm XRail.
  •  He joined the railway as a British Rail sponsored Engineering Management Trainee in 1988 and trained for two years around his Mechanical Engineering degree at Loughborough University, later holding engineering and management posts in Chiltern Railways and Intercity West Coast.
  •  On privatisation, Noel joined Freightliner Ltd in an engineering management position, responsible for the T&RS fleet.
  •  Approached by Bombardier Transportation, Noel became Sales Director for UK, Ireland and South Africa in 2008 and held various Project Management roles, before spending 18 months as Interim Chairman and UK MD.
  •  Noel joined Unipart Rail as Deputy MD in 2016, becoming MD early in 2017 in a planned transition to replace the retiring MD. In December 2018, Noel also became MD for Unipart Manufacturing Group, with overall responsibility for the Group’s automotive and aerospace manufacturing businesses. Noel was also a main Board member for Unipart Group.
  •  Noel served on the RIA Board from 2018 to 2021.
  •  Noel is a Fellow of the IMechE, and is immediate past Chairman of its Railway Division. In addition to his BEng In Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University, Noel also holds an MSc in Rail Systems Engineering from the University of Sheffield.
Back to Top