Why we exhibited at the RIA innovation conference

RIA Innovation Conference, March 2019

As our Railway Industry Association (RIA) membership now moves into its third year, I thought it would be time to exhibit our work at the UK’s most innovative railway conference… the Railway Industry Association’s innovation conference.

The WillB exhibition stand was positioned in the main hall, just to the side of the buffet area. Here I was delighted to meet up with a number of clients from Network Rail, RSSB, TfL, NSAR, UKKRIN, 3Squared, and Porterbrook.

RIA’s innovation conference has been running for many years and is primarily open to members of the Railway Industry Association to exhibit and attend. I say primarily because this year is the first time that non-members could attend. However, with their new introductory membership fee, starting from £875 a year, it seems better value to be a member than not.

There was a real buzz throughout the show

New for the event was our bright yellow exhibition stand which had everyone reaching for their sunglasses. For the 3x3m stand, we created a bold three-dimensional graphic of a generic high-speed train zooming down the track, passing six of our key services.

Designing the artwork

‘The medium is the message’, as they say, so we opted for a sketch style image similar to what we have been recently producing in recent animations for Network Rail and Hitachi.

The drawings for the exhibition stand highlighted our various services offerings.

Andrew Haines, Chief Executive, Network Rail

The highest-profile speaker of the event was Andrew Haines, who gave a relaxed speech about how Network Rail was working with suppliers to use innovation to improve passenger service.

Toufic Machnouk, Programme Director, Network Rail

East coast digital: a partnership approach that is putting the customer at the heart of the programme. One of the most engaging speakers of the event was Toufic Machnouk, Programme Director, Network Rail. A master orator, his use of the English language was enough to open the minds of all of the professors in the room.  Toufic spoke of how Network Rail was open to innovation like never before, focusing on the customer priorities, rather than the technical issues in delivering them. His presentation used video clips from TED talks and visual metaphors to really elevate his message above many of the other presenters.

Toufic Machnouk, Programme Director, Network Rail

Interactive workshop – Digital Partnership Model. Toufic was aided by Selina Clarke, Engagement Lead (Rail Industry), Group Digital Railway – Network Rail, during one of the interactive workshops. Here they were discussing how RIA members could influence how digital railway comes to market.

Claire Porter, Head of Transport Systems Engineering, TfL

Closing keynote with Q&A. Having completed a number of projects for the engineering division of Transport for London in recent years, I was keen to hear Claire’s address.

Not surprisingly the focus of her talk was about TfL’s success when it came to innovation. However, it came as a great surprise that Louise was going to talk about three of the projects that I had provided visuals for.

First, there was the TfL Engineering Transformation that was completed a year ago, then the iDITLO (illustrated Day In The Life Of) work on the MRV (Mechanised Renewals Train) and finally, the latest project, for Crossail 2.

In this Crossrail 2 project, they were looking to reduce the number of ventilation shafts, whilst maintaining safety in the case of a fire. I worked with TfL to develop a series of iDITLO (illustrated Day In The Life Of) storyboards to enable stakeholders to visualise the situation, and then sign off on the project. This, as Claire said, has led to a £1billion saving. The photo above shows Claire presenting one of the isometric visuals I created for them.

Thank you

Like the railways, when everything works to schedule, you wonder how much organisation is really required to make it happen. However, I’m grateful to all the team at RIA for their hard work in putting together such a well thought out event. I look forward to the next innovation conference… in 2020.