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News from the UK Rail Industry 14th March 2019

Posted by: Warren Drobac
Industry News

Rail Alliance and University of Birmingham to create ‘railway of the future’

The Rail Alliance and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) have announced a partnership with the goal of creating a “railway of the future”. The two organisations will combine services and develop a “powerful new approach” between industry and academia.

The announcement was made at the site of HS2 Curzon Street station in Birmingham. Alex Burrows, BCRRE and Rail Alliance managing director, called the partnership a “golden opportunity” for the rail industry that “creates a unique and exciting opportunity for railway suppliers and academia to co-create the railway of the future.”

Businesses will no longer be charged a fee to join the Rail Alliance and the only requirement for membership will be to show genuine support for the UK rail industry and a desire to develop the rail industry. Members of the Rail Alliance will be encouraged to engage directly with BCRRE at its research centre at the University of Birmingham.

The Rail Alliance expects the new larger team to provide superior access to research, development and innovation which will in turn allow for greater opportunities for engagement and collaboration.

Burrows went on to say: “This is an extremely compelling offer that brings significant opportunities to all parts of the rail supply industry. This is a golden opportunity for the rail industry, especially SMEs, bringing together a wide range of talents in one team that combines world-leading capabilities across a large number of research areas with real industry expertise and know-how.”

Mike Noakes, Rail head at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), commented: “Rail Alliance and BCRRE coming together like this really furthers BEIS’ Industrial Strategy agenda, helping to blend the innovative juice of the SME community with the academic and scientific rigour and mass of BCRRE and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network.”

At Navartis, we have a 13 year history of supporting the rail industry and we look forward to the opportunities this new partnership will create. Full story.

If you’re looking for your next freelance or permanent role please visit our Rail jobs page or contact us here.

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Women encouraged to enter rail industry

In an interview with Rail Technology Magazine, Samantha Smiths, the sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, has encouraged more women to enter the rail industry. Smith feels that education must encourage all students to pursue rail career opportunities to make full diversity a reality.

“I don’t think there is an easy answer, but there are certainly a few key obstacles at play,” explained Smith, when asked why it is difficult to attract women into the rail industry. Smith went on to explain that the problem stems from early education where only 20% of girls go on to study A Level Maths and Science. Another key obstacle is a gender bias and the solution is to “challenge these beliefs and ensure that youngsters are empowered to pursue a range of careers that are as diverse as they are.”

Smith encouraged industry professionals to work closely with schools and colleges to showcase the wide variety of rail industry careers available which didn’t exist 20 years ago: “The rail sector has changed enormously in the last decade and there are a huge variety of careers available now which simply did not exist before.”

Smith went further, saying that the industry needs to continue its nurturing culture and encourage long-term careers in the rail industry: “For example, the TransPennine route upgrade is a 10-year programme, which means the young students of today will become our workforce of tomorrow.”

“I am a firm believer in the power of mentoring,” Smith explained, when asked about the rail industry’s culture of nurturing and mentorship. “By linking up and building strong professional relationships between both men and women, we can provide a powerful support system. We learn a great deal from each other.”

At Navartis we actively place a diverse pool of talent onto key infrastructure projects and we are proud of the contribution we make to promote equality and diversity in these historically male-dominated industries. Full story.

Engineers work around the clock to keep on top of stormy weather

Network Rail has shed light on the steps they take to keep the railway network open to passengers during treacherous weather conditions.

Floods, high winds and landslips can destroy railway infrastructure and block lines, which means Network Rail have to work around the clock to monitor their lines, repair damage and clear debris to ensure trains can continue to run.

This week’s wet weather poses a problem for the network: “Water blocking the lines, as well as debris, silt and mud making its way onto the track, are only part of it. The lasting damage that flood water can cause to infrastructure can lead to ongoing repair work that takes days, weeks or even months.” 

Other infrastructure impacts include power problems which cause issues for signalling and electrical lines, and heavy rainfall causing flooding on the tracks. To combat these issues Network Rail deploy flood defence systems and pumping stations in flood-prone areas, and make an effort to install signalling equipment at higher levels.

The week’s heavy winds also wreak havoc for the railway: “This commonly comes in the form of debris blown onto the tracks, including trees or other forms of vegetation that delay trains while the line is cleared.”

Network Rail’s report highlights the importance of foresight: “Being prepared is essential in helping to minimise disruption on the lines as adverse weather continues. There are many ways that we prepare for and reduce the possibility of flooding, for example, including deploying flood defence systems such as inflatable barriers, and clearing branches and leaves from ditches and culverts on and near the railway.” Full story.

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