Proposals for a “radical yet
respectful” transformation to Birmingham Moor Street station have been
The existing station building, which dates back to 1914 and is Grade II listed, will be enlarged to more than double the size of the concourse, up from 910 to 2,000 square metres, and to introduce two new platforms to meet growing passenger demand at the station, which is within walking distance of both the existing Birmingham New Street station and HS2’s terminus at Curzon Street.
The new platforms will be used
for extra services to and from the East Midlands, Hereford, Worcester and the
South West as part of Midlands Connect’s Midlands Rail Hub proposals to
increase rail capacity.
Birmingham is adopting a “One
Station” strategy, and the new proposals will create seamless links with both Curzon
Street and New Street stations. There will be a new transfer deck, with access
to every platform and links to a new footbridge taking passengers directly to
HS2 services from Curzon Street via a new public square.
In the wider area, there are
also several options that will improve pedestrian access between Moor Street
and New Street. These include a safe, well-lit and direct route via St Martin’s
Queensway; new steps and a ramp at Swan Passage, adjacent to the new Primark
development; and a new ramped route from Rotunda Square to New Street Station.
Introducing a second entrance at the south of the station should improve passenger flow, avoid overcrowding and create better access to the revitalised Digbeth area and the proposed £1.5 billion Smithfield development.
Designs for the new proposals
were prepared by Grimshaw and Glenn Howells Architects, who also worked
together on designs for HS2’s Curzon Street station, based on concepts developed
by West Midlands Rail Executive working in collaboration with Transport for
West Midlands, Midlands Connect, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd, Chiltern Railways, West
Midlands Railway and Birmingham City Council.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy
Street said: “We have big plans for transport in the West Midlands and the
expansion of Moor Street is a crucial part of that. Our game-changing plans for
HS2 and new metro and rail lines are already driving investment, new jobs and
apprenticeships as well as bringing communities closer to those work, training
and education opportunities.
“This whole area of Birmingham will be revitalised over the next few years as the world’s largest Primark opens, Curzon Street HS2 station is built, and Moor Street is transformed. This vision for Moor Street will not only provide a better experience for commuters but with two extra platforms, it will set the foundation for the future expansion of rail services.”
New state-of-the-art train simulators are being used to
train 768 Greater Anglia drivers that will be driving the new trains due to
replace all of the company’s existing fleet from later this year, when it
starts to receive 38 bi-mode and 20 all-electric trains from Stadler followed
by 111 more electric commuter trains from Bombardier.
Four new simulators, each worth £1.6 million, have been
installed at its driver academies in Norwich and Stratford.
Already, 185 drivers from Norwich and Cambridge have
completed the six-day course to learn to drive the new Stadler bi-mode trains
that are replacing all diesel trains on rural routes.
The course includes three days of class room and simulator
learning, followed by three days of driver training on the trains themselves.
The simulators, two supplied by Transurb and two by Sydac,
are constructed to feel like an actual train cab, with the controls looking and
functioning exactly the same as in the new trains themselves. Realistic CGI
animation is shown through the windows of the view ahead and from the cab’s
side windows as the train ‘drives’ along routes. Several of the Greater Anglia
routes have been recreated on each simulator, the first time that drivers have
been able to experience real routes on a simulator.
When the train ‘stops’ at a platform, two screens switch on
and show video from internal and external CCTV, so the driver can check
everyone has got safely on and off the train before opening or closing the
If a train is longer than the platform, the software onboard
automatically selects to open only the doors next to the platform.
If it looks like anyone needs assistance, the driver can
inform the conductor, who in real life will be on board the bi-mode trains
assisting customers, giving them a helping hand to get on and off the train if
they need it, answering enquiries and selling tickets.
Drivers on the simulator are given a number of different
scenarios which they might face, including encountering animals on the line,
varying weather conditions and customers on board needing emergency help.
For the first time, drivers will be able to control the
temperature on the train, either switching on the air conditioning or turning
up the heating.
Greater Anglia business readiness director Andrew Goodrum said: “We’re getting 169 brand new trains, with three different models. While the trains are still being made and tested, we’re preparing our drivers to be able to play their important role in the transformation of the railway.”
The proposed extension of the Edinburgh Tram network, as previously reported in Rail Engineer, has now been approved by Edinburgh City Council. Councillors have voted to press ahead with taking trams to Newhaven.
A meeting of the full Council in Edinburgh City Chambers on 14 March 2019 considered the plans and, after a lengthy debate, granted approval.
From the end of March, the two contractors involved (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul Joint Venture for the infrastructure and systems contract and Morrison Utility Services for the swept path contract) will start on a six-month early contractor involvement (ECI) period, working closely with the Council and other key stakeholders to finalise construction plans.
Work will then get under way on the £200 million project and services to Newhaven should commence early in early 2023, with nearly 16 million people forecasted to use the completed line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven in its first year of operation.
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said: “Our city is growing faster than anywhere else in Scotland – a sign of our continued attractiveness as a place to work, live, visit and spend time – and boosting our public transport infrastructure in a sustainable way is fundamental to catering to our expanding population.
“This is a crucial decision for
Edinburgh – for today’s residents and for generations to come. Taking trams to
Newhaven will allow brownfield development sites to be transformed, opening up
the whole of north Edinburgh to a wealth of opportunities in terms of jobs,
housing and local facilities. And vitally, this will be achieved without
putting pressure on existing Council budgets.”
The freight industry in
Scotland has collectively launched a new strategy intended to increase the
amount of freight moved by rail. This is in response to a target set by the
Scottish Government last year for 7.5 per cent growth.
The freight operating companies
and Network Rail came together with freight users, industry bodies and hauliers
to create an ambitious plan that sets out what is needed to support rail
freight growth. It also considers how to increase both the average speed of a
freight train and reliability, so that punctuality can be improved.
The strategy includes for areas
Encouraging customer confidence;
Doing things differently;
Achieving simpler solutions.
With over 600 freight trains running on Great Britain’s network every day, 50 of which are in Scotland, over 4 million tonnes were transported by rail in the last year. This benefitted the Scottish economy alone by around £200 million.
The environmental benefits of transferring freight from the roads to rail are well documented. As part of this plan, the rail freight industry is committed to transfer at least 1,700 lorry movements a year from Scotland’s road network to rail over the next five years. Each tonne of freight transported by rail reduces carbon emissions by seven percent compared to road and each freight train removes between 25 and 62 HGVs from Scottish roads.
Network Rail’s managing
director of freight and national passenger operators Paul McMahon said: “Our
freight customers are a vital part of Scotland’s railways and the Scottish
economy. Scottish growth also needs to be considered as part of our GB-wide
network as this will make sure that the required capacity and capability exists
both north and south of the border.
“Network Rail champions and
supports freight. We, and the rail freight industry, welcome the growth target
and we will continue to work together in delivering the uplift.”
The project to reopen the Airdrie to Bathgate (A2B) line in 2010 included electrification to extend the Glasgow suburban electrification network to Edinburgh via this new line. This electrification work was part of a £60 million contract to electrify 106 single track kilometres (stk) and lay 44 kilometres of track on the new line. This project, which was delivered to time and budget, was Britain’s first significant electrification since the 1994 Heathrow and Leeds North West electrification schemes.
long gap, A2B was to be the first of many new electrification schemes as the UK
government had accepted the benefits of electrification. Between 2009 and 2012,
it announced electrification of Great Western main line, North Western lines,
South Wales main line, Midland main line, Electric Spine, Crossrail, Gospel Oak
to Barking line and West Midlands suburban lines. In addition, the Scottish
government was funding various electrification schemes. These electrification
programmes totalled over 2,000stk.
The Great Western electrification programme (GWEP) started in 2010 and was to cost £1 billion. By 2016, its cost had risen to £2.8 billion and its scope was reduced. By 2017, the government had lost faith and cancelled the Midland main line, Swansea and Windermere electrification schemes. This was justified by the claim that electrification was not necessary as new bi-mode trains offer the same passenger benefits despite their diesel mode having about two thirds the power of their electric mode (issue 157, November 2017).
RIA’s cost challenge
electrification offers significant passenger, cost, reliability and
environmental benefits, these benefits will not be realised unless the UK
Government is convinced that any future electrification will cost far less than
Railway Industry Association (RIA) considers that electrification remains the
optimum technical solution for intensively used railways – if it can be
delivered at an acceptable cost. Its technical director, David Clarke, who
considers that the industry can and must deliver electrification at a lower
cost, is leading RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge, which recently produced
its report. This highlights lessons from schemes in the UK, notably Scotland,
and elsewhere to show that electrification can be delivered at a lower cost
acknowledges that much went wrong with GWEP, but he feels that it is not
helpful to assign blame as “the whole industry got it wrong” and the important
thing is to recognise the problems and learn lessons. In this respect his
report identified the following reasons for GWEP’s cost escalation:
Unrealistic programme as completion date was set by delivery date for new trains determined by the Department for Transport;
Immature estimates with little survey information or cost data from recent schemes;
Unclear specification as Network Rail didn’t know whether the Department for Transport wanted trains to run at 125 or 140mph;
The development of high-output electrification construction trains that had not been used before;
Unnecessarily conservative pile design requiring piles up to 15 metres long which resulted in poor productivity with many repeat visits to individual sites;
Competition for delivery resources, for example with North Western, Scottish and Midland main line electrification schemes all taking place at the same time;
Introduction of new UK requirements for multiple pantograph operation at up to 140 mph (later reduced to 125mph) resulted in a new OLE design specification that was more onerous than the European Energy Technical Standard for Interoperability (ENE TSI) which was itself under revision when the project was being designed;
In addition, the UK introduced more onerous clearance requirements than ENE TSI and it was initially perceived that the ORR expected absolute compliance rather than allowing deviation following robust risk assessment and appropriate safety measures;
The unproven Series 1 overhead line system was developed during project delivery and was designed for 125mph multiple-pantograph operation, TSI compliance and ease of installation;
The volume of planning permissions and consents was under estimated;
The lack of a collaborative contracting strategy with clear objectives, shared incentives and fewer interfaces.
electrification cost challenge report explains how lessons from the above have
been learnt and implemented. Furthermore, it shows that the underlying cause of
most of the above issues is the British ‘feast and famine’ approach to
electrification, which meant that there was initially insufficient expertise to
design, plan and deliver electrification projects on the scale of the GWEP.
This was not a problem for the much smaller Airdrie to Bathgate electrification as, in 2010, it did not have to compete for resources. In addition, it did not have the problems of unclear specification or standards changes. This perhaps explains why this electrification work was delivered to time and budget.
Westminster, the Scottish Government is committed to a substantial rolling
programme of electrification that, it believes, will bring significant
economic, social and environmental benefits. Including A2B, it has funded a
rolling programme of seven separate schemes over a ten-year period that will
have electrified over 500stk once the Shotts scheme is completed in May.
Scottish electrification experience provides useful information for RIA’s
electrification study, which notes that two schemes completed in 2014,
Cumbernauld and Rutherglen, delivered electrification for less than £0.75
million per stk. However, the RIA report notes that £/stk is actually quite a
crude measure of performance in view of the varying amount of electrification
clearance and power supply work between different schemes.
the Edinburgh to Glasgow main line electrification was over budget at £2
million per stk, the later Alloa and Shotts schemes, which both required
significant clearance works, each cost £1.5 million per stk. The RIA report
concluded: “Having a rolling programme of electrification in Scotland is
benefiting from learning and experience being passed from one project to the
next.” It included the following examples of good practice from the Stirling, Dunblane
and Alloa electrification project:
The separation of independent activities, even though this extends the programme, into 1) bridgeworks and other route clearance; 2) site investigation; 3) grid supplies, master feed diagram, isolation and switching design; 4) foundations and 5) OLE installation;
Extensive ground investigation undertaken at 200-metre centres throughout the route;
Site-specific GRIP 4 OLE design to consider site information, including clearances, to ensure accurate development of GRIP 5 detailed OLE design;
Foundation options derived from ground investigation CAD model developed from all possible sources with 1.2-metre-cube trial holes dug at each planned location to confirm foundation setting out and design;
Staged approach to OLE design using finalised isolation and switching design and as-built foundation positions;
Foundations installed using MOVAX vibrating units mounted on road-rail vehicles;
A common data model that included steelwork foundation, masts and small parts schedules, material allocation and the wiring CAD model;
Masts installed using a road-rail vehicle-mounted manipulator, rather than a crane, with small parts steelwork pre-fixed to avoid working at height;
To maximise wiring train productivity, particular attention was paid to special foundations to ensure that all masts would be in place for each wire-run with cantilevers and registration arms pre-registered to +/- 50mm prior to wiring;
Extended midweek ‘rules of the route’ access negotiated so that night-time engineering access could start after the evening peak service;
A station electrical clearance risk assessment process was developed to assess acceptable clearances for use in OLE design.
Foundations and arrestors
the various cost-saving measures included in RIA’s report, two particularly
noteworthy initiatives are Network Rail’s new standard for foundation design
and the use of surge arrestors to reduce clearance costs.
factor in GWEP’s cost escalation were obviously over-engineered foundations, up
to 15 metres deep, which were the result of an analytical risk-averse design
approach. The RIA report considered this to be a major factor in the
programme’s poor productivity and resultant cost escalation.
foundations had been designed using empirical methods derived from field tests
carried out by the UIC’s Office for Research and Experiments (ORE) in the
1950s. To validate a return to this previous approach, Network Rail engaged the
University of Southampton to carry out full-scale field tests to extend the ORE
design methodology to 610mm-diameter circular hollow section piles over
in-service loading conditions that are at the upper end of current operational
results of this research are now incorporated in Network Rail standard
NR/L2/CIV/074 ‘Design and installation of overhead line foundations’. RIA’s
report notes that it is encouraging that the Bedford to Corby electrification
project is now installing 95 per cent of its piles using ORE design methods to
achieve productivity of six piles in the available working time of 4 hours 30
described in issue 158 (December 2017), surge arrestors have been successfully
introduced on Danish Railways to reduce bridge electrification clearances.
These work by limiting any over-voltages, for example from lightning strikes.
When combined with contact wire covers and an electrical insulating coating
(onto an earthing plate) electrical clearances required in both wet and dry
conditions are significantly reduced.
University of Southampton was also involved in this initiative as it carried
out 193kV tests under controlled conditions under Network Rail’s supervision to
determine that, with this mitigation, minimum electrical clearance requirements
could be reduced from 270mm to 150mm.
outside Cardiff Central Station, there is a low and highly skewed bridge over
the railway which itself crosses a substantial culvert. To obtain the required
electrical clearance, the reconstruction of this bridge had been costed at
£40-£50 million and the estimate of an alternative option of track lowering and
a culvert diversion was £10-15 million. Both these options would have been
Instead, for a cost below £1 million, Andromeda Engineering worked with Network Rail, Siemens (surge arrestors) and GLS Coatings (insulated coating on the underside of the bridge) to provide a solution that avoided the need for these expensive and disruptive options.
been the subject of reports by both the National Audit Office and the Public
Accounts Committee that draw conclusions about programme management issues.
Neither of these reports acknowledges the difficulty of ramping-up supply-chain
capability for full route electrification after there having been no such
scheme for twenty years.
contrast, RIA’s electrification cost challenge report focuses on practical and
technical lessons from GWEP and other projects. It shows how solutions have
been implemented and gives examples of actual electrification costs throughout
the UK and in mainland Europe. As a result, the report concludes that, in
comparison with GWEP’s £2.8 million per stk, “all-in” electrification
(excluding route enhancement and major grid connections) should normally cost
between £1 and £1.5 million per stk.
recommends that there should be a rolling electrification programme that would
maintain a core design and delivery capability and support a culture of
continuous improvement. It notes that the German rolling programme of
electrification, which retains learning and skills, delivers electrification at
significantly lower cost than the best that is currently achieved in the UK.
the RIA report demonstrates that electrification can be delivered at an
affordable cost, the case for electrification requires that its benefits must
also be accepted. Amongst the many documents that show electrification’s
benefits are Network Rail’s 2009 electrification route utilisation strategy and
the Department for Transport’s 2009 Rail Electrification paper.
paper notes that electric trains are 35 per cent cheaper to operate than
diesels. It also offers the small, but significant, benefit of more powerful
electric trains giving a four-minute journey time saving between Cardiff and
Swansea, where they must accelerate from station stop to line speed on four
occasions. Yet, when this electrification scheme was cancelled, the government
view was that electrification offered no time savings because this was not a
It is to be
hoped that the UK Government accepts the strategic case for a rolling
electrification programme in the same way that it has allocated £450 million to
accelerate digital signalling technology deployment as a strategic policy not
subject to a business case. If not, the danger is that hard won lessons will be
forgotten as the historic cycle of electrification feast and famine repeats
Andrew Haines knew that Network Rail was letting its passengers and freight users down before he became its new chief executive. After a hundred days in the job, spent speaking to all concerned, he now knows what must be done. This includes the devolution of control to five new regions to make the company more responsive to its customers
This signals much more than an organisational change. Haines believes that decision-making must be closer to the end user and so is devolving many HQ roles to the new regions. These include Infrastructure Projects and elements of the engineering function.
Exactly how engineering will be devolved remains to be seen. One example is the management of standards which, as Network Rail’s own standards challenge process acknowledges, can currently be over-prescriptive.
Now, although standards management might be felt to be a headquarters function, perhaps it would be better to have standards commonly owned rather than centrally controlled. This will require highly competent regional engineers, who will be accountable for the system risk on their routes, having ownership of the standards process as a group and, as they are closer to the issues, it may well result in more appropriate standards.
There are also significant implications for the Group Digital Railway programme, which Haines does not refer to in the transformational terms used by his predecessor. Instead, the new organisation will give regions the authority to decide what is best for their customers.
However the digital railway develops, it owes a debt to David Waboso who, after joining the programme in 2016, prioritised it to deliver business benefits for passenger and freight customers. Before then, it offered digital solutions for everything everywhere. Some may be surprised to learn that David is a civil engineer, as Clive Kessell describes in a feature that marks his wide-ranging career
Minimising delays on a congested network requires the ultra-high reliability that comes from redundancy to avoid single point failures, such as those that can occur in the control, actuation, detection and locking of points. To address this problem, a new point system offering redundancy is now in trial operation. As Malcolm Dobell describes, the novel Repoint mechanism does this by having a drive mechanism that is not secured to the rails, which enables them to move with only one actuator operational.
This month, we have two general signalling features which should be of interest to non-signalling engineers. David Bickell explains how Network Rail’s 40,000 signals are part of a signalling system that has been developed to control train movements in the most efficient manner whilst optimising capacity. In another feature, which should be good reading for permanent way engineers, Paul Darlington explains train detection technology.
On Thameslink, signalling is now in the train cab. This required a significant GSM-R network upgrade to ensure resilience, provide sufficient data capacity for ETCS operation and eliminate interference in the congested London core. GSM-R interference is also an increasing problem elsewhere, as public operators are allocating frequencies close to the GSM-R bandwidth. The solution is a £55 million programme to replace 9,000 cab radios with ones that have improved filters.
Yet, in the not too-distant future, these radios will be obsolete. GSM-R will then be replaced by the Future Railways Mobile Communication System. In an in-depth feature, we consider the telecommunications technologies that might replace GSM-R. These will need to provide reliable, efficient and high-capacity connectivity for both passengers and operational services, as well as allowing for bandwidth expansion for new applications that are unknown today.
HS2 will also have trains with yet-to-be developed technologies. The company’s £2.75 billion procurement of its trains will see bidders submitting their tenders in April. This process allows for collaborative design after next year’s contract award to ensure trains are state-of-the-art when they enter service in 2026. HS2 will then provide a huge increase in capacity from London to the North and, from 2033, free up space on the West Coast, Midland and East Coast main lines, a fact which recent television documentaries have ignored.
HS2’s trains must of course be electric. No other form of traction can power high-speed trains or, indeed, those that require high acceleration to provide an acceptable service. In its report to government, the industry’s decarbonisation taskforce recognises that it is also “the most carbon efficient power source”.
Unfortunately, the UK Government has fallen out of favour with electrification due to high cost overruns of the Great Western and other electrification schemes. In its recently-released Electrification Cost Challenge report, the Railway Industry Association explains why these schemes were so costly and demonstrates how electrification can be delivered at an affordable cost, with reference to schemes in Scotland and in Europe. It remains to be seen whether the conclusions of RIA’s excellent report will be accepted so that, in future, passengers on busy non-electrified lines can experience the benefits provided by the electric trains that operate 72 per cent of the UK’s train services.
As many of our features show this month, UK rail has an encouraging future, but only if it can deliver for its customers at an affordable cost.
Network Rail has announced plans to conduct a survey of more than 850 route miles of track across Wales and the border counties of England. This includes the proposed and current Transport for Wales (TfW) Rail Services operational and diversionary routes and will also include data acquisition on parts of London North Western (LNW) and Western routes.
The asset information and track position data that results will be used by Network Rail to support a new train introduction programme and to validate track position on route sections throughout the country.
The contract to carry out this survey has been awarded to Fugro, building on the successful outcome of a survey of the Core Valley lines that the company conducted for TfW Rail Services in late 2018. The geo-data specialist will deploy its RILA system to capture the data from a train, removing the need for “boots on ballast”.
Indeed, Fugro’s train-mounted rail infrastructure alignment acquisition system (RILA) will be deployed on TfW Rail Services’ in-service passenger trains throughout Wales, rather than dedicated locomotives, so no additional track access capacity will be required either.
Work on the survey began in February and is providing a
holistic view of the network to high levels of accuracy. Once processed, the
resulting information will give Network Rail baseline asset data that can be used
for a range of route maintenance applications, including topographical survey extraction,
determination of heights and staggers on electrified routes, vegetation
analysis, ballast profiling and ballast volume validation.
Fugro’s global director of rail Jeroen Huiskamp commented: “With RILA, we have revolutionised the way railway data and asset information are collected. We can deliver data faster, with less disruption to normal rail services and can increase the safety profile considerably for track survey works.”
Humaware, the Southampton-based company that develops and
markets a range of data-driven predictive analytics tools to enhance the
predict and prevent capability of the railway network, has been acquired by EKE-Electronics
of Espoo, Finland.
A division of the EKE Group, a privately held Finnish company with diversified international operations, EKE-Electronics is a leading global supplier of intelligent train automation and management systems. The company has been active in the rail industry for more than 30 years, developing applications and onboard electronics for train automation and condition monitoring.
This acquisition means that EKE-Electronics will be able to
provide a complete solution for rolling stock remote condition monitoring and
predictive maintenance. The company’s range of services will now extend to the
analysis of signals and sensor data collected from trains by means of the
extremely accurate and reliable predictive analytics algorithms developed by
Unforeseen failures in rail traffic result in additional
maintenance costs, delays and reduced passenger satisfaction. Humaware’s
advanced data-driven algorithms and anomaly detection techniques provide an
improved approach to obtain remote condition monitoring benefits. Fixed
thresholds are replaced with an adaptive threshold to detect changes in remote
condition monitoring data earlier than fixed threshold methods.
This earlier detection provides the opportunity to switch
from costly schedule-based maintenance to a dynamic maintenance programme based
on the actual condition of the trains. The pooling of expertise from
EKE-Electronics and Humaware will provide a predictive maintenance capability
that will improve reliability, cost-efficiency and passenger comfort.
Intelligent maintenance solutions are currently in great
demand in the railway industry because of the substantial benefits they offer.
Karl Lönngren, who is responsible for EKE-Electronics’
condition monitoring business, said: “With Humaware’s unique software, we’re
able to offer a comprehensive solution for data collection and analytics, as
well as for planning a dynamic maintenance programme that is of interest to
rail operators all over the world.”
National Apprenticeship Week 2019 took place 4 to 8 March
2019. Coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service, an offshoot of the
Department for Education, It is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the
positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
This year’s theme was ‘Blaze a Trail’, highlighting the
benefits of apprenticeships to employers, individuals, local communities and
the economy. A range of activities and events took place across the country,
seeking to change the perceptions that people have on what an apprenticeship is
and to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to take up an
The rail industry was thoroughly involved. Network Rail, as the largest employer, promoted its apprenticeship scheme and the benefits that participants can enjoy.
Richard Turner, as head of apprenticeship delivery, is
responsible for overseeing Network Rail’s entire range of apprenticeship and
graduate programmes, including its award-winning rail engineering technician
“Network Rail has a long history of running great
apprenticeship and graduate programmes, and our early careers offering is only
going to increase over the next few years,” he said. “We need to be recruiting
and training apprentices today so that they’re ready to maintain and operate
“Apprenticeships also offer an opportunity for existing
railway employees to re-skill or up-skill as new technologies enter the
workplace. Simply put, our apprenticeships programme safeguards the future of
railway infrastructure, operations, and workforce.”
Snowy Worrad is an apprentice for Network Rail Wales and Borders, based in Port Talbot. She explained why she had decided to take up an apprenticeship: “I applied for the scheme because I wanted to study engineering but I didn’t want to stop working to be able to do so.
“Joining the company as an apprentice has given me a boost that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and there have been lots of opportunities for me to see more of the company, get involved in new ideas and to meet people from different roles. I’ve completed placements with a wide variety of teams and I know that once I completed the apprenticeship, I will have gained all the skills and knowledge I need to further my career in engineering.”
Elinor Harris, 32 and from Gorleston in Norfolk, is almost
at the end of her three-year apprenticeship. She joined Network Rail with an
interest in engineering but no knowledge of how the railway worked. Three years
on, she’s learned about switches and crossings, trackside maintenance and
signals, and has also had the chance to analyse data that helps with the
day-to-day running of the railway.
“At Network Rail, you get so many opportunities to develop,
and the chance to study for qualifications,” she said. It gives you a great
head start to further your career.
“The experience so far been really rewarding and I have
learnt so much. I am almost coming to an end of my apprenticeship and it has
been an incredible experience and I have no regrets. I would certainly
recommend the apprenticeship scheme to anyone.”
Looking back while looking forward
One interesting approach to National Apprenticeship Week was that of Anna Delvecchio, commercial account director at Amey. A former apprentice herself, she now works closely with industry and government and was part of the team that formulated the new Rail Sector Deal.
Winner of a number of awards for her activities in promoting
the rail industry, including Woman of the Year at the FTA Everywoman in
Transport and Logistics Awards, she decided to go back to being an apprentice
for the week, while giving a group of apprentices the opportunity to shadow
A group of Amey apprentices, working across both transport
and rail, shadowed Anna in her job, and at the same time, talked of their
experiences and what it means to be an apprentice in a major company today.
“It was brilliant, and I enjoyed every minute of reverse shadowing and the apprentices understanding my role,” Anna enthused. “It was incredible to see so much talent in so many apprentices in a short space of time.
“Let’s start with Jay Millard. He is an apprentice tree
surgeon. He taught me so much about trees in just four hours. He is brilliant. He doesn’t want a career in
the office and loves working outdoors. It was freezing cold, pouring down with
rain and there he was enjoying his job – looking after trees in the rain with a
Another former apprentice on Anna’s ‘team’ was Holly Welch,
who completed her apprenticeship in engineering and now works on highways
design. Anna described her as “an inspirational role model for STEM and
engineering roles”, adding: “She is a great example of someone we should use to
inspire young girls to think about a career in engineering.”
Lamar Gardiner also works on highways design, and he
explained to Anna the details of his role – completing drawings, surveys and
going on site.
Danny Mahmood is relatively new to the programme, only starting
his apprenticeship six months ago, training in overhead line equipment (OLE).
He is currently placed with the design team, and Anna spent the afternoon
shadowing him, seeing what he does on a typical day.
Deivydas Andriuškevičius is a street lighting apprentice. “I’ve
known him the longest,” Anna commented. “Deivydas is an absolute advocate for
apprenticeship programmes, just like me.”
The apprentices that Anna worked with were appreciative of
“I was very interested to meet shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald,” said Lamar. “He was clearly very busy but seemed very calm and it was interesting to hear about his work. We also met Robin from BEIS who had started off as a history teacher. He was keen to hear about our backgrounds as well. A really interesting day.”
Danny was fascinated by being able to see, in a small way,
the connection between the operational work he is engaged with every day and
the bigger policy decisions that can influence this. “We saw different
government departments and got to see how their policies can affect our
everyday work. We heard how they are hoping to recruit an additional 20,000
Holly agreed that she had gained a sense of perspective on
the work of the industrial strategy. “That was interesting – to hear first-hand
about the sector deals and how these are linked to skills and productivity.”
“It was an exciting opportunity to meet the government
departments and Andy McDonald,” Deivydas agreed. “I’m so inspired.”
So what comes next in this interesting initiative?
“I will be helping Amey champion our apprenticeship
programme with our apprentices as well as continuing to support the good work
of both Women in Transport and Women in Rail,” said Anna. “I will also be
helping CILT (the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) with their
Big Logistics and Transport Diversity Challenge and I have a little project
that I have been working on with a few which is progressing very nicely. Watch