We have hand picked some of the leading figures within the rail industry to present at this year's event. Find out a bit more about each of our speakers below.
Abigail is the Principal Operations Safety Specialist in Network Rail, and manages Network Rail’s Health & Safety Management System, Safety Validation of organisational change, and operational safety.
Abigail is an experienced health & safety professional, and a certified member of IOSH, with over a decade’s experience in a variety of health & safety roles, primarily operational safety. She is deputy chair of the industry’s SPAD risk sub-group and works closely with colleagues across the industry to maintain and improve our operational safety performance.
Over the past year Abigail has led a project to update Network Rail’s Health & Safety Management System to make it more user friendly and significantly shorter, reducing it from 200 pages to about 60 whilst increasing the scope of it to all of Network Rail’s activities, not just those directly railway related.
Andrew Hall is a Chartered Engineer and he has worked in the rail industry for over 35 years. He has held engineering and engineering project management roles in Britain and overseas. In 2004, Andrew joined the newly formed Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).
After 11 years as Principal Inspector, he was appointed Deputy Chief Inspector in 2015 and subsequently, in 2022 Chief Inspector. The RAIB is the independent body tasked with the investigation of railway accidents in the UK.
Chris Knowles leads the RSSB's system safety and health directorate, with responsibility for the development and delivery of the rail industry's health and safety strategy.
Working with colleagues across RSSB, the directorate defines and delivers transformative safety work for the rail industry in asset management, train operations occupational safety, public behaviour, and health and wellbeing.
A graduate of the University of Liverpool, Chris is a chartered engineer, a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a fellow of the Institute of Asset Management.
Colin Wheeler BSc (Eng), CEng, FICE, FPWI, Trustee Robert Stephenson Trust, past Editor “The Rail Engineer”, columnist “RailStaff”, railway civil engineer and writer.
Railway Civil Engineer since 1967, worked for British Rail in Leeds, York, Sheffield and Newcastle upon Tyne. Became Civil Engineer for North West England (Manchester and Liverpool) in the 1980’s with 2,500 staff, when Manchester’s Metrolink tram system was built. Pioneer of the modern use of steel sleepers, dynamic track stabilisers and other innovative working practices. Subsequently Infrastructure Engineer InterCity East Coast (Edinburgh to London Kings Cross) prior to privatisation. Until December 2003, Engineering and Safety Adviser Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services (AFR reduced from 1.26 to 0.32 in one year), advocate and supporter of green zone working and use of track warning systems.
Led the national Track Safety Strategy Group for three years, originator and Quiz Master of the UK National Track Safety Awards & Quiz. Sometime columnist for “Rail Infrastructure Magazine”, and still writes on track-worker safety each month for “Railstaff” newspaper. In 2000, awarded the Permanent Way Institution prize for his paper “The Safety of Railway Track Workers” and in 2004 the Arthur Mabey Award, again from the Permanent Way Institution. He was a regular speaker and chairman of both domestic and international railway engineering conferences. Recalls with pride the day he overheard a Railtrack Director describing him as “that safety irritant Colin Wheeler”. From its inception in November 2004 until March 2008 was Editor of “The Rail Engineer”, written exclusively by rail engineers. Circulation amongst engineers doubled in its first year making it the most popular magazine of its kind in Britain.
Was the Independent Chairman of the Association of On Track Labour Services from its foundation in 1999, and continued as Independent Chair of the Railway Industry Contractors Association until 2012. Reviewer/Examiner for Chartered Engineer and Fellowship candidates with the Institution of Civil Engineers. In 2006 won the “Wing Award”-“in recognition of an outstanding contribution to track safety”. From May 2006 until 2012 worked as Business Development Engineer for Rail One of Germany having become convinced of the engineering advantages of ballast-less track systems. Trustee of the Robert Stephenson Trust since May 2009. Partner in Wheeler Associates from 2004 until December 2012.
Has chaired annual Safety Summits for Rail Media since they began including the first one held in Loughborough in 2010. Continues as regular columnist for Railstaff magazine.
I have been involved in Tramways & Light Rail from an early age.Having started out as an apprentice engineer I worked my way through the ranks rising to the position of chief engineer, before deciding to sample other areas of the engineering industry, whilst still remaining involved in Light Rail operations.
After proving my adaptability in changing fields, I decided to return full time to work in the operational side of the Light Rail Industry whilst keeping an involvement in the engineering side.
I am fortunate enough to have been involved in the Light Rail Industry for over 25 years and have so far spend the majority of my working career in this sector.
Currently working as Managing Director of UKTram (the trade body for the Light Rail Industry in the British Isles) alongside running my own Light Rail consultancy company SMARTTRAMS Ltd.
Lord Tony Berkeley is a member of the House of Lords and a civil engineer. He spent 15 years developing and building the Channel Tunnel, followed by chairmanship of the UK Rail Freight Group, the industry representative body. He was a Board member and sometime
Chair of the European Rail Freight Association and was a founder and currently Honorary
Board Member of Allrail, the association of independent European rail operators. He is a regular contributor in the House of Lords on rail, competition and safety of different types of transport.
He is a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport and Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK.
Simon is the Head of Corporate Safety in Network Rail (NR) and oversees the national standards and controls team, workforce safety team, the NR safety management system, operational safety, track safety research & development (R & D) projects, ergonomics, human factors and safety culture.
A mining and minerals processing engineer he worked for contractors and clients firstly in tunnelling and latterly on large project builds such as the King’s Cross Redevelopment Programme.
He Joined NR in 2007 in Capital Delivery and has managed large portfolios as a Capital Delivery Director in the South East Route. In 2019 he joined the Southern regional team as the QHSE director and moved to the Technical Authority as Head of Corporate Safety in 2021.
Steve is the General Manager of the Rail Wagon Association, a rail industry trade body which represents the interests of owners, keepers, freight end users, designers, manufacturers, hirers, ECMs, consultants, maintainers and operators involved in rail freight wagons based in the UK.
This includes the 5 principal freight operating companies and Network Rail. The RWA has 31 member companies and covers over 95% of the wagons operating in the UK, including the infrastructure fleet.
Steve worked in rail operations for British Rail before joining the Electricity Supply Industry in 1990. For the following 28 years he worked in logistics for PowerGen, E.ON and Drax Power with purchasing rail services being a constant feature. Contracting for road, canal, shipping and ports services in Europe and in the UK also became a feature. Significant projects included the negotiation of high tonnage rail contracts at rail privatisation, the introduction of Fastline Freight to the ESI coal supply chain and bringing into service the Drax biomass wagons, all of which was good preparation for his present role with RWA.
Steve joined the Private Wagon Federation in 2018 as Secretary General and was instrumental in its transformation from an unincorporated body into the RWA, a Private Company Limited by Guarantee.