Dinner at the Roundhouse, now in its ninth year, is well-known as the UK’s favourite networking event – held in the magnificent surroundings of the 1839 Derby Roundhouse. The 2019 event saw another 580 guests celebrate collaboration and innovation in the UK’s fast-moving railway sector, bringing together operators, manufacturers, construction groups, consultants, suppliers and industry partners.
The evening began with a Champagne Reception hosted by Derby-based Porterbrook – celebrating its 25th birthday in 2019.
This year’s sell-out dinner was hosted by comedian Chris Barrie – star of television and film, known to millions for his role as Arnold (and ‘Ace’!) Rimmer in the long-running sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf as well as The Brittas Empire and alongside Angelina Jolie in the original Tomb Raider films – and saw keynote speeches from two of the UK’s most senior railwaymen.
In his first address since announcing his resignation as Commissioner of Transport for London – the world’s largest with 11 million customers every day –Mike Brown MVO, chose the Dinner at the Roundhouse to deliver a number of hard-hitting challenges to the transport sector.
Mr Brown, stepping down from Transport for London’s top job in May 2020 to chair the delivery authority for the restoration and renewal of the Houses of Parliament, began by emphasising the importance of safety: “We are aiming towards the day where we don’t see a single fatality on the capital’s public transport. It won’t be easy, but safety always has to be our number one priority.”
He then called on the industry to “redouble its efforts” to break down the barriers to entry to employment, saying: “There are still too many middle-aged men in this room. While it is great to see that balance changing, we need to be encouraging a greater cross-section of society in supporting and operating our transport networks, and the growth this country needs.”
Mr Brown went on to dismiss the common belief that London deserves preferential treatment to the rest of the country when it came to investment – It is important for everyone to recognise that London can only maintain its standing as a true world city if the rest of the country prospers as well. He said: “Our other great cities such as Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh need to benefit from transport investment for London and the country as a whole to reach its full potential.”
Second guest speaker Andrew Barr, Group CEO of Hitachi Rail, also called for greater industry co-operation to solve our most pressing transport challenges: “My time outside of the UK has taught me that we need to think big. It is our job, as an industry, to drive a new agenda. We need to be the ones telling Governments around the world what is possible – and what we need to make it happen. If we don’t drive that agenda for innovation, no-one else will.”
Addressing the increasingly imperative role of mass transit in meeting the ‘climate crisis’, Mr Barr added: “Our big challenge in the UK is to decarbonise our railway to meet the Government’s climate change targets. I believe that in developing green rail technology the UK can overtake the rest of the world.
“Thinking back to my daughter and her generation, they are depending on us to cut harmful emissions, clean our air and halt global warming. Rail has a central role in this mission. In Japan, we’ve had battery trains carrying passengers since 2017. The technology is ready – we must stop waiting.”
Howard Johnston, Chairman of the Dinner at the Roundhouse event, said: “It is fantastic to see such a diverse range of suppliers to the industry coming together to celebrate excellence and innovation within what has become the must-attend event for the railway family.
“Held right in the heart of the largest cluster of railway businesses in the world, the Dinner at the Roundhouse really has now become an important fixture on the railway calendar.
“Our special thanks go to our fantastic and insightful speakers and host Chris Barrie, and, as always, we are delighted that this event can give something back to the local community. The work of the Padley Group is vital and we are delighted that we can play our part.Here’s to 2020!”
Dinner at the Roundhouse
Derby DE24 8JE,