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Ahead of the curve

The battle to train motivated people to take forward the expansion of the rail industry is gathering pace.

The government has decided to strengthen the apprenticeship scheme – adding value for apprentices and giving employers greater input. Once again the rail industry is ahead of the curve on this.

Concerned at having enough people to deliver the new railways of the next generation, companies the length and breadth of Britain have been taking on apprentices as these pages demonstrate. Training is provided by skilled professionals often working out on site backed up by rigorous instruction in the classroom.

Similarly the rail industry is keen to recruit and retrain men and women from other professions. One company makes a point of hiring former service personnel. Others hire middle aged folk becalmed in a stagnant career and keen to reflect the rejuvenating challenge of an old industry made new.

However the rail industry makes heavy demands on its staff. Training is a constant. New skills need to be mastered and in what is a safety intense environment, setting skills that help us stay safe and look after colleagues and public alike are constantly honed.

It is to the credit of the companies we discuss in this feature that they go much further than legislative guidelines stipulate. There is no substitute for studying alongside men and women who have invested in a career in the railway; no finer testament to the enduring appeal of an industry that powered Britain’s industrial revolution and is now the dynamo of our economic recovery.

As the great projects unfold – Crossrail, High Speed 2, Great Western Electrification, the Northern Hub and the Borders Railways – our instructors and their charges are already hard at work vouchsafing a bold and bright future for the country we serve.

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