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The PWI: a catalyst for rail industry improvement

9 December 2015  •  Author(s): David Packer, CEO, Permanent Way Institution (PWI)

David Packer, CEO, Permanent Way Institution (PWI)The Permanent Way Institution (PWI) is the UK professional engineering institution for rail infrastructure engineers. At the heart of its recent strategic review was answering the question ‘What is the role of a professional engineering institution in the 21st century?’ PWI CEO, David Packer, explains more.

The background for our review was that the UK rail industry has seen significant change since privatisation in the late-1990s. Efficient rail transportation with a clear customer focus is now welcomed as a vital ingredient in the UK economy. As a result of this, we are seeing unprecedented levels of investment in metro and heavy rail combined with rapidly increasing passenger numbers.

Against this background our role is clear – to act as a catalyst for improvement in the industry. The diversity of our members, our inclusive nature and our independence as a respected professional body are key ingredients.

Given a clear purpose, how do we deliver this? Again, focus is vital. At the PWI’s core is the principle of excellent customer service. Membership of the PWI is a voluntary purchase for both individual and corporate members, so it must represent value to them. They must gain far more from their membership than its cash cost. When they do, they act as our best advocates to attract new members. That’s why, despite the demographic trends that put pressure on numbers, membership of the PWI is growing.

At the heart of the PWI is the sharing of knowledge. The PWI is an essential cross-industry link which complements the knowledge sharing that takes place in individual enterprises. Members are able to share knowledge in a range of ways according to their preferences. We have 17 branches covering the whole of the UK – each of which runs a series of lunchtime and evening lectures throughout the year. Our programme of technical seminars aimed at practising engineers attracts large audiences, both for the relevant technical content and for the opportunity to network across the industry on matters of common interest. We provide seminar services and benefits to our corporate members, enhancing their industry presence and developing links…

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