Billion pound investment in rail industry fuels growth for Welsh businesses

A concerted effort by the Welsh Government to broker supply chain opportunities in the rail industry is paying dividends with a number of Wales based companies now in advanced discussions regarding potential deals.

The Welsh Government has co-hosted a series of events over the last eighteen months providing Welsh companies with the opportunity to meet very senior officials from some of the UK’s key rail original equipment manufacturers.

The latest event took place on Friday 3rd October when London Underground and Rail held its first meet the buyer event in Wales hosted by the Welsh Government when more than 100 companies attended.

To date one South Wales company has had an enquiry to potentially supply products to the value of £9 million – and been asked to support its tender by producing a prototype part for further evaluation.

Spectrum Technologies PLC – the Bridgend based manufacturer of specialist laser wire processing equipment for the aerospace sector globally – has won a contract with Bombardier Transportation North America to supply their rail car manufacturing plant in Mexico with UV laser wire marking equipment.

Bombardier is delivering 775 new rail cars – which require 4000 miles of wire to be marked, measured, cut and installed – for the Bay Area Rapid Transit new train car project in San Francisco

Spectrum Technologies CEO Dr Peter Dickinson described the contract as a major breakthrough, opening up a new arena for the company.

He said: “Bombardier is a global leader in rail technology and this contract could lead to our technology becoming the industry standard across the international rail sector and significantly expands our potential market.”

The company is now targeting the rail sector as a new market with high potential and participating in WG events to maximise business and networking opportunities .

Monmouth based Tri Wall Europe, which specialises in innovative bespoke packaging solutions, is also providing several prototypes for one of the OEMs and its suppliers following an opportunity facilitated by the Welsh Government. Discussions are ongoing and both parties are excited about the potential benefits Tri-Wall can offer by manufacturing application specific products.

The focus on the rail industry is also opening new opportunities and potential markets for Port Talbot based Aluminium Lighting Company (ALC) – a leading supplier of extruded aluminium lighting columns for highways in the UK.

ALC attended the London Underground and Rail event which follows a successful attendance last week on the Wales stand at InnoTrans in Berlin, an international industry showplace focusing on Railway Technology.

ALC Business Development Manager Bob Phelps said :” Our main focus has always been on highway and public lighting but we have now made a concerted effort to realise some of the opportunities in rail.

“The InnoTrains event was of tremendous use to ALC. We have already entered into discussions with a potential distributor for our columns in Holland they would also look at distribution in Germany, France, Iberia and Italy where they currently have good market positions.

“We also plan to investigate opportunities in the middle east – all of which potentially means greater turnover for our business, assisting in stability and future growth. This would not have been possible without the support of the Government.”

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “We have received excellent feedback from the buyers as well as suppliers in Wales and I know discussions are underway regarding potential contracts. These events are a great way to work directly with the buyers and senior management and raise awareness of the range of capability we have in Wales across the sectors.

“Our advanced materials and manufacturing team has developed good working relationships with a number of the key players in the industry which is helping to open doors.”