DIGI-RAIL Sheffield City Region team

Sidrah Khan, Project Manager
Bio coming soon.

Leon Wechie, Business Engagement Manager
Prior to joining DIGI-RAIL, Leon worked extensively with Universities, Research Institutes and Industry; from small businesses to multinational corporations, to deliver innovation through collaborative Research & Development (R&D) projects.

Vahid Hassani, Innovation Specialist
Bio coming soon.

Faris Nafia, Innovation Specialist
Bio coming soon.

Paul Morris, Senior Research and Innovation Manager

Paul has several years of experience in delivery of next generation rail innovation, from concept, through to commercially viable products. He enjoys mentoring technology companies, with many previous start-up clients now becoming recognised by mainstream customers. As a self-confessed geek, Paul has a passion for sustainable, smart, simple yet effective digital solutions. He is famously allergic to paper.

Nicola Kissaglis, Product Manager

Nicola specialises in bringing new products and services to market, and identifying opportunities to expand the market reach for existing products in new markets. Having spent the majority of her career in the electronics industry, Nicola joined Unipart Rail in 2020 to understand and develop the Power Products portfolio, focussing on infrastructure.

The innovators Nicola is keen to engage with are those who bring ideas around signalling power and HV traction power products. She is also keen to hear from SMEs who currently work outside of the rail industry, and to explore whether their products would be suitable for rail infrastructure, and of course to provide support and expertise in helping to bring these ideas and innovations to the market.

Colin Smith McGloin, Product Manager

Colin joined Unipart Rail in 2020 as a Product Manager covering condition-based maintenance, rail and train safety systems. Colin is an expert in condition-based maintenance in rail with a strong understanding of the sensors, analytical software, and maintenance processes which enables him to find the right solution to meet the customer requirements. He has been involved in a wide range of monitoring products including those for track, points, overhead line, power, signalling, automated inspection systems and survey equipment.

Chris Elliott, Product Manager

Chris has worked in the Traction and Rolling stock side of the railways for over 39 years. During this time he has managed several railway depots and Project Managed the £30m fleet refurbishment and heavy overhaul of East Midlands Trains. He has led significant teams and strategy for  Midland Metro and has also held the position of Engineering Director at Stagecoach Supertram in Sheffield and been the UK and European General Manager for a Railway Technology Company.

When looking at SME's he is looking for a good thinking process and those open to new ideas or advice. An SME and its support network should be able to understand all of the barriers to progression within the railway environment and account for these in both time and monetary terms. Having a solid business basis to any project and understanding the cost and market potential are key things in a product's successful delivery as well as those involved having a collaborative approach.

Unipart Rail
Unipart Rail is the delivery partner for the Digi-Rail Sheffield City Region.

BCRRE Professional Staff

Alex Burrows, Director, BCRRE

Alex leads the BCRRE Commercial and Professional Services team that sits alongside the BCRRE academic group and is also Managing Director of the BCRRE Rail Alliance, the UK’s largest rail supply chain community. Alex chairs the Digi-Rail Project Management Board and retains oversight of the project, making sure the team is well-equipped to deliver maximum benefit to the SMEs taking part in the project.

Dr Jenny Illingsworth, Deputy Director, BCRRE

Jenny looks after the Industrial Outreach, Marketing & Communications, and Operations teams in BCRRE and is a co-director of the BCRRE Rail Alliance. She will be supporting the Digi-Rail project by providing the team with management and oversight, support for strategy development and operational activities. For Digi-Rail clients she provides business support in the non-technical areas and support for product development strategy.

Karminder Johal, Communications Officer

Karminder is a communications expert and supports the Digi-Rail programme by preparing the project’s marketing communications materials and looking after all of our social media presence. She will lend support to promotional communication needs for Digi-Rail client projects too.

Robert Hopkin, Head of Development

As well as overseeing all education and research-related development of BCRRE, Rob is Operations Director of the BCRRE Rail Alliance and ensures the Rail Alliance community is well served by the organisation.

Kevin Blacktop, Head of Delivery

Kevin looks after project management and delivery of BCRRE’s wide portfolio of research and innovation projects, of which Digi-Rail is a core activity. As well as supporting Louise, Kristin and the Technical Officers, Kevin offers his own extensive experience as an engineer in the automotive and rail industries.

Steve Mills, Senior Industrial Fellow
Richard Thomas, Rachel Fisher, and Marcelo Blumenfeld, Industrial Fellows

The team of Industrial Fellows, led by Steve, is made up of technical specialists in the Digi-Rail themes. All are also innovation experts who bridge the gap between academic research and industrial application. The Industrial Fellows can work with Digi-Rail clients to scope out projects, investigate sources of project funding and potentially make introductions to collaborators.

Adnan Zentani, Technician

Adnan is the BCRRE Technician who runs the laboratories and oversees all the experimental work that takes place. He liaises with the Technical Officers, prepares samples and helps with product development projects.