Transport Minister Theresa Villiers will formally open Infrarail 2012 at the NEC in Birmingham on 1 May.

Later that morning, the minister will deliver a keynote address as part of a seminar programme devised by the rail engineer in partnership with show organisers Mack Brooks Exhibitions.

Ms Villiers’ speech is expected to set the tone for an event that brings together leading suppliers of rail infrastructure products and services.

By mid-March the number of companies participating in the exhibition had risen to nearly 180, covering signalling and communications, track products, plant and tools, civils products, cable supplies and much more.

As well as catching up with the latest products on offer by suppliers, visitors will be able to discover more about industry developments and trends by sitting in on the free seminars which run throughout the exhibition.

A range of industry-leading companies will be presenting papers on everything from bridge design to major incident response.

Further keynote speeches will be made by Howard Smith, Chief Operating Officer, London Rail at Transport for London, and Simon Kirby, Managing Director, Investment Projects at Network Rail. In addition, the programme also includes a Network Rail paper on electrification plans.

As always, Infrarail will give visitors a great opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues who they may not have seen since Railtex 2011 last year.

Infrarail opens at 10.00 on 1 May and runs for three days. Entry is free for pre-registered visitors, who also avoid a £15 entry fee on the door. To register, visit www.infrarail.com and follow the on-screen links.