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Clacton-on-Sea MP Giles Watling believes innovative composites can ‘hugely benefit’ the rail industry.

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton-on-Sea, has said that composite materials could ‘revolutionise’ the rail industry, on a visit to a company in his constituency, Dura Composites. The visit was part of the Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Rail Fellowship Programme, where MPs visit rail suppliers to find out more about the rail industry. MPs experience a day on-site finding out about the importance of the UK rail supply sector, the people who work in it and the innovative products and services it provides.

Composite materials include high-strength, low-weight glass reinforced polymer (GRP) which are durable, non-conductive and non-corrosive as well as being lighter-in-weight and having the ability to reach new fire standards. Dura Composites has used these materials to construct station platforms, flooring, handrails, trackside walkways, pedestrian footbridges and bridge walkways. Critically, the use of composite materials ensures that refurbishment works can be completed quicker resulting in less passenger disruption.

Giles Watling, MP for Clacton-on-Sea, said: “It was fantastic to tour Dura Composites’ site today and see how they are developing innovative products for a range of industries. In particular, the rail industry and its customers could hugely benefit from the widespread use of composite materials. It’s brilliant to see these innovations are taking place in the rail sector – and are having a real impact on passengers. I’m proud that we have such a world-leading company right here in Clacton.”

Stuart Burns, Managing Director of Dura Composites, said: “We were delighted to host Giles and the Railway Industry Association as part of the Rail Fellowship Programme, and to show them the power of composite materials. Dura Composites has seen a huge increase in the use of composite materials in industries such as Power and Energy thanks to their compelling lifecycle cost and overall versatility, but there is still work to be done in showcasing its immense potential for speeding up improvements to rail infrastructure. Fundamentally, both rail asset owners and end-user passengers can benefit from high-strength, low-weight and durable solutions which are designed to reduce incidents and accidents at the platform edge through clever features such as anti-slip surfaces and height adjustable capabilities, and which can be installed more efficiently and cost effectively than traditional materials across the network”.

David Clarke, Technical Director of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “The rail industry is working to develop more innovative products and services to reduce costs, increase capacity and improve the passenger experience. The Railway Industry Association have identified four areas where the UK rail industry could develop world-leading capabilities – the areas of Materials, Automation, Data and Energy, or M.A.D.E. Using composites is a great example of how we are innovating when it comes to the materials we use, so we’re delighted Giles has been able to see the impressive work of RIA member Dura Composites on his Rail Fellowship Programme visit.”