Plymouth MP Luke Pollard becomes the UK’s first RIA Rail Fellow, after hands-on day at local rail site

1 August 2018

  • Today, Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, became the first MP to complete the Railway Industry Association (RIA) Rail Fellowship Programme, which showcases the work of the UK rail industry, by spending a day on site at local rail manufacturer Vortok.
  • Accompanied by RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan, Pollard gained valuable knowledge of the industry and saw first hand some of the key products made at Vortok, as well as meeting the workforce on site.
  • As the voice of the UK rail supply community, RIA is promoting the positive work of the rail industry to the UK, particularly in the areas of innovation, skills and exports.

Photo: (L to R) Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Railway Industry Association; Hannah Squire, Sales Administrator and MBA Student, Vortok; Luke Pollard MP; John Pettitt, Sales and Marketing Manager, Vortok; Richard Robertson, Managing Director Equipment and Control, Vortok

Luke Pollard, local MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport attended the Vortok rail site in Plymouth and spent the day learning the nuts and bolts of the work they do to benefit the rail network. This is part of a new exciting campaign - the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme - which is showcasing the work of the UK rail supply chain by allowing parliamentarians and influencers to gain hands-on experience in the industry. More than 14 MPs have expressed interest in the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme, as decision makers line up to pledge their support for the UK rail industry.
 
The campaign is being run by the Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the UK rail supply community. RIA has more than 200 member companies and works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.
 
Luke Pollard had discussions with employees on site at Vortok, including an employee who was undertaking a MBA funded by the company. He also was given a full tour of the site, and saw up close the latest equipment being manufactured, such as Vortok’s innovative Stressing Rollers, which allow for quicker, safer and more cost effective stressing of rails. The completion of today’s site visit enshrines Luke as a member of the RIA Rail Fellowship Class of 2018. The Class of 2018 in full will be recognised with awards at the annual RIA Parliamentary reception in The House of Commons on Tuesday 27th November 2018.
 
The rail sector is of crucial importance to the UK economy, contributing £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. 
 
Luke Pollard MP said: “Improving the railway in the far south west has been one of my main priorities since being elected last year. We not only need investment by Ministers in new track and trains we need orders to support the excellent local businesses in the south west who supply equipment and materials to keep Britain moving. It was great to see for myself, through RIA’s Rail Fellowship Programme, how jobs are being created in Plymouth supporting rail upgrades at home and abroad.”
 
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association said: “It’s great to see the MP for Plymouth, Luke Pollard spending a day finding out about our innovative and dynamic rail supply sector, becoming the UK’s first RIA Rail Fellow. The work of the rail supply chain is vital and greatly boosts our economy, jobs and investment year upon year.  We are delighted to welcome Luke to the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme, Class of 2018!”.
 
Richard Robertson, Managing Director, Equipment & Control at Vortok said: “I am delighted to receive Luke and RIA to Vortok today. As a company where innovation has been key to our success and recent growth this is a great opportunity to showcase our abilities, and specifically those of our talented staff, at a parliamentary level. All the staff here in Plymouth are very proud of the products we produce and their positive impact in the rail industry; we see this visit as a welcome recognition of our efforts.”

Notes to Editors

  1. About the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme: The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme is an exciting opportunity for UK parliamentarians and commentators to gain an insight into the valuable work of the UK rail supply chain at a RIA Member location. “Fellows” spend a day ‘on location’ with a RIA Member whose work is relevant to their role or constituency and experience opportunities reflecting the great diversity of technical disciplines within the rail sector. Candidates are gaining an invaluable understanding of a diverse workforce that together contribute £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people.  The RIA Rail Fellowship Class of 2018 will be awarded at the annual RIA Parliamentary reception on Tuesday 27th November 2018. For more information can be found here. 
  2. About the Railway Industry Association (RIA): The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the trade association for UK-based suppliers to the UK and world-wide railways. It has some 200 companies in membership, in a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. 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). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.
  3. About Vortok: Part of the Pandrol Group of companies, Vortok design and manufacture products that focus on three key requirements of the rail Industry; Safety of the workforce and infrastructure, productivity and reduction in possession times. We only get involved in creating products that make step changes in these three criteria. The company has three key competencies; Rail Stress Management, Mounting of Equipment in track and Condition Monitoring with the Measure & Detect Range of products. Our main design and manufacture base is in Plymouth UK although a smaller operation is based in Avon NY in the USA. Approximately 60% of our sales are exports.
Photo 1: Richard Robertson, Managing Director Equipment and Control, Vortok (left) showing Luke Pollard MP (right) the safety barriers the company manufacture.
 
Photo 2: Luke Pollard MP examining the production machine for the Vortok Coil (which he is holding). The Coil helps with the repair for loose screwspikes in wooden sleepers.
 

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