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New Rail spotlight

NewRail® – the Newcastle Railway Research Centre has launched a modern, research-based teaching and learning portfolio aimed at strengthening the logistics industry.

In 2007, the Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan of The European Commission (COM(2007) 607 final) said, ‘efforts are required to focus and enhance the qualifications of logistics personnel, notably by strengthening competence in transport.’

More relevant skills are needed for rail freight professionals and for logisticians than ever before. Recent surveys, conducted within the context of two rail education focused projects (TUNRail and RiFLE), have revealed that significantly more people will work in the wider railway industry in the coming years, which in turn implies a major potential requirement for railway and logistics higher education in the near future.

Skills needed include:

  • Marketing and management;
  • Product and service development;
  • Business processes and commercial activities;
  • Technology and organisation in rail freight and intermodal transport;
  • Information systems and customer services.

Paramount importance

Modern logistics production systems are of paramount importance to the railway sector. Rail freight must be cost effective, cost competitive and much more productive in relation to asset management and utilisation of resources.

Lean Thinking, for example, promotes a very different set of imperatives on the distribution of freight, focused on cost-effective, value-added principles. University programmes will increasingly need to reflect these requirements.

Railway higher education should be innovative, relevant and more globally orientated, employing a multidisciplinary approach that promotes transferable skills and competencies such as creative thinking; research-based learning; adaptability and flexibility.

Strengthen competences

NewRail®, at Newcastle University in the UK, has designed and launched a modern, research- based teaching and learning portfolio to strengthen competences in rail freight and logistics through MSc and PhD programmes as well as intensive summer schools.

NewRail’s teaching portfolio includes the integration of research-based teaching activities, including independent project studies; team assignments; interactive lectures and seminars; field-work and workshops. Programmes provide opportunities to view rail freight and logistics together. Graduates are equipped with the skills and qualifications necessary to pursue a management, operational and/or engineering career in this field. For further information, visit: www.ncl.ac.uk/newrail/education/

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