Press Release

RIA promotes positive outlook for UK rail, and celebrates bringing politicians closer to the rail supply industry

25 February 2022

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the UK rail supply community, held a reception in Parliament yesterday (Thursday 24 February) and held the awards ceremony of its Rail Fellowship Programme Class of 2020-21 in the House of Commons Terrace. The Programme has seen MPs from across the UK, and of all political persuasions, visit rail businesses to see the work they do.

The Rail Fellowship Programme over 2020-21 has seen Members of Parliament visit rail suppliers from Dudley to Devon and from Clacton to Crewe, with politicians visiting RIA members for a 'hands-on' experience of what the rail industry does to keep the network running.

The MPs of the Class of 2020-21 saw the industry at a particularly pivotal time, as the sector supported the UK during various lockdowns and restrictions, as well as supporting the UK economy as restrictions eased.

Participating MPs were given an award - a cross-section of a steel rail, provided by British Steel - at RIA's Parliamentary Reception, where they were reunited with the companies they visited. 

The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme Class of 2020-21 included:

  • Giles Watling MP who visited Dura Composites in Clacton;
  • Chris Loder MP, Lead Fellow, who visited Balfour Beatty, GHD and Ricardo Rail virtually;
  • Derek Twigg MP who visited Alstom virtually;
  • Dr Kieran Mullan MP who visited Unipart Rail in Crewe;
  • Sarah Olney MP who visited Alstom's depot in Willesden;
  • Mark Fletcher MP who visited SRS Rail Systems in Bolsover;
  • Navendu Mishra MP who visited Sella Controls in Stockport;
  • Simon Jupp MP who visited dormakaba in Tiverton, Dorset;
  • Lee Anderson MP who visited Van Elle in Ashfield;
  • Christian Wakeford MP who visited Garic in Bury; and
  • Sam Tarry MP visited BCIMO in Dudley. 

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said:

"The Railway Industry Association is optimistic about the future of UK rail. It is clear that post pandemic passengers and freight are returning, and so now is not the time take the foot off the pedal for rail investment.

“In line with this positive outlook, RIA has been bringing to life for political decision makers and influencers the exciting and innovative work the rail supply sector is carrying out, by showcasing the RIA Rail Fellowship Programme. This was set up with the simple purpose of bringing politicians together with the rail supply chain, and since its establishment in 2018, we've seen more than 30 politicians visit RIA members across the UK, learning about the vital work they do to keep the railway network running.

"The Fellowship Class of 2020-21, who we celebrate today, engaged with the industry at a particularly crucial time, as the sector supported the UK during the pandemic - getting key workers and resources around the country, keeping passengers safe and supporting the national economy.

"I'd like to thank all the politicians and RIA members who took part in the programme this year. The next Class of 2022 has already begun, with Bob Blackman MP visiting a rail depot last week. And we look forward to hosting many more politicians from across the UK to sites over the coming year."

Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset and Lead Fellow of 2020-21, said: "The railway sector is so important to the UK, its economic growth and prosperity. That's why I'm delighted to be the Lead Fellow for this year's cohort of MPs, who have visited rail suppliers across the UK. A big thank you to RIA and all those who've taken part over the year."

Rail Fellowship Programme 2020-21 Awards Ceremony

Lead Fellow Chris Loder MP (centre) with Simon Whitehouse, Ricardo (left) and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)

Ella Owens from Dr Kieran Mullan's Office (second from left) with Unipart Rail and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)

Stockport MP Navendu Mishra (second from right) with SELLA Controls and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson (left) with RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan

Shadow Light Rail Minister Sam Tarry MP (second from left) with BCIMO and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)

Kieran Smith from Sarah Olney MP's office (centre) with Alstom's Mike Muldoon (left) and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)

Jonathan Howard of Dura Composites (left) and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)

Gethin Thomas of SRS Rail Systems (left) and RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan (right)
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 300+ 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. The RIA Rail Fellowship Programme helps to educate politicians on the rail sector’s crucial importance to the UK by placing them at state-of-the-art sites where highly skilled rail professionals showcase the fascinating work they do. Participating Fellows spend a day ‘on location’ with a RIA Member whose work is relevant to their role or constituency. Participants become part of an annual RIA Rail Fellowship Class and are recognised at our yearly Parliamentary Reception. Find out more:

Talk to us

Railway Industry Association

Kings Buildings
16 Smith Square
United Kingdom

© Railway Industry Association Great Britain 2022    


RIA is a company limited by guarantee registered in England & Wales Reg. No. 10036044