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URS intensifies search for staff

Do you want to design a new railway for Scotland? Or do you fancy planning Britain’s next high speed line, modernising the UK’s rail infrastructure or even getting involved in revitalising the railway network of an entire European country?

Staff at leading engineering, construction and technical services company URS have the opportunity to do all that and more. And they need new colleagues to join them. URS is intensifying its search for new staff by hosting a recruitment event in Swindon on 18 September and another in Bristol on 25 September so that potential applicants interested in learning more about the business can meet members of the rail team.

‘We have a very strong pipeline of work,” says URS Director of Rail, Ian Hay. ‘As a result, we aim to recruit about 100 additional permanent staff over the next 12 months in our rail business. We need to fill 40 of these positions by January to bring our rail team to 300 because there is just so much to do.’

Workload for the business was boosted in August when the company was appointed by contractor Dragados SA as lead design consultant for the £563m Bank tube station capacity upgrade project. The job includes creation of a new Northern line southbound running tunnel to create more platform space, interchange tunnels and another station entrance.

The URS integrated design team, which includes Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Dr Sauer & Partners, will deliver a wide range of multidisciplinary services including design management and assurance; civil, structural, geotechnical, mechanical and electrical engineering; tunnelling; architecture; pedestrian flow modelling; and planning and environmental services. Staff from URS and Dragados will share an office with client London Underground for the duration of the project.

Job openings across all disciplines

The broad range of services URS will deliver at Bank station is just a snapshot of the company’s expertise in rail. The company currently has job openings across all disciplines and particularly in project management, permanent way, signalling, telecoms, bridge engineering, mechanical, electrical and overhead line electrification. URS in the UK is part of the giant global URS Corporation. In Scotland, URS is working with contractor BAM Nuttall on Borders Rail. ‘We have been involved with the project from its earliest stages for over a decade,’ says Hay. ‘We provided outline design services and now we are providing detailed design for BAM Nuttall.’

URS now routinely works for contractors under design and build arrangements like Borders, Hay says, and is one of a limited number of consultants that does such a volume of work in this field. ‘Half our rail business is direct with contractors, which means our people can get involved in projects that are physically being built. That is hugely satisfying for them to see as well as great for their CVs. On Borders, for instance, our team of engineers can be out on site in 45 minutes, seeing their work converted into reality.’

‘One of our strengths is our approach to designing for constructability to help contractors win work in the first instance and subsequently deliver efficient design solutions. Once on site we are then able to quickly react to change and respond to the needs of contractors in meeting demanding schedules. Of course this brings its own challenges but it is very rewarding.’

Project managers

Hay says that while he needs designers who can work well with contractors he is also keen to recruit project managers who can excel in a design and build environment, working directly with contractors and developing good relationships.

‘We are very careful to make sure our employees are doing the jobs they want to do and are best suited for,’ Hay says. With main rail offices in Swindon, Birmingham, York, Nottingham, London and Glasgow, URS has a good variety of bases to choose from.

Major schemes on the books include Crossrail in London, where the company is one of the largest design consultants on the project, having worked on both the preliminary and detailed design phases of the surface routes as well as the underground central section. It gained the necessary expertise working on some of the world’s most modern metros including Athens, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Ian Hay
Ian Hay

The same level of insight has been brought to the High Speed Two project, where URS holds four contracts with two other designers, Mott MacDonald to provide engineering services and Arup to provide environmental services, both under the framework agreements for Phases One and Two of the project.

URS is also heavily involved in the modernisation of the UK’s existing network. It is a major provider for Network Rail’s switches and crossings renewals programme and is one of three design firms currently providing detailed integrated permanent way, signalling and multidisciplinary solutions for the national programme. This renewal programme is just one example of the kind of cradle-to- grave service that URS has provided to Network Rail for many years.

The company’s success extends to Europe where it is playing a major role in modernising Croatia’s entire rail network. The Croatia Railways programme comprises upgrades and extensions to help the nation’s rail network meet EU requirements. Through its multidisciplinary design services role URS will double the track on existing lines within Croatia as well as improve its links with other European countries.

‘Working for a leading global brand that is winning a steady stream of major rail projects is proving a big draw for candidates,” Hay says. “The opportunity to take on a meaningful role on a project from day one is another key factor attracting new employees to the company.’

Having a long-term career path with a tailored training and development programme is equally important. ‘URS is committed to developing its staff,’ Hay adds.

For more info see www.ursglobal.com/careers or contact

[email protected]

URS director of rail, Ian Hay, speaks about his career and his in-tray.

When did you join the rail industry?

I originally joined the industry as a British Rail trainee in 1977 before securing a place on its graduate development programme. After becoming a chartered engineer I moved into roads and general infrastructure before going back to the rail industry post privatisation in 1997. I joined Scott Wilson (acquired by URS in 2010) in 1998.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I’m especially proud of the Trent Valley Four Tracking project that was a key part of the West Coast Route Modernisation Programme.

This major project increased a 20km section of the West Coast Main Line from two tracks to four tracks between Tamworth, Litchfield and Armitage in the Midlands.

We developed this project from cradle-to-grave – from outline design to detailed design and on to site completion – over a 10-year period and I was proud to be involved throughout in my role as the project director. It was great to see this scheme develop from a blank sheet of paper to on-site completion.

What is URS like as an employer?

It is rewarding being part of a global business that has the desire and ambition to be a major player in the rail market. While my team’s focus is very much on the UK at present, we’re excited by the prospect of growing and extending our rail expertise on a more global basis. The opportunities ahead are almost limitless!

What are your biggest challenges at the moment?

My biggest challenge is to recruit the staff we need to help us deliver our vision and meet the opportunities ahead. Winning high-profile projects such as the Bank station capacity upgrade will help us greatly in this.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the challenge of leading the URS rail team in terms of growing the business to meet with the demands of today and opportunities that lie ahead of us in rail. I am pleased with the progress the team has made in the last 12 to 18 months.

Most rewarding of all is seeing the tangible evidence of our work through the positive relationships we have developed with our clients and partners.

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