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Railway apprentices at Prospects College of Advanced Technology in Basildon, Essex, will benefit this winter from a new purpose built Rail Academy.

The academy has its own mock- up station with a platform, track, customer information system and CCTV. It also sports both line and trackside equipment including Training Protection Warning System (TPWS) and axle counter systems. The apprentices will be trained on a broad range of disciplines including signalling, telecommunications and systems testing.

Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills & Equalities officially opened the Rail Academy and met representatives of Thales, a key sponsor and investor in the academy. Thales has worked closely with the college to develop the academy. The college has been home to 20 Thales apprentices in the past year – the highest number from within the rail industry – along with others from Serco and Bombardier.

The academy has opened ahead of another 20 trainee engineers joining the Thales apprenticeship scheme for the 2014 intake in early September. Other rail industry suppliers will also see youngsters benefitting from the academy in the near future.

Says Alistair McPhee, VP Ground Transportation Systems, Thales UK, ‘Thales is extremely pleased and proud to have worked with the college and played a key role as sponsor for this fantastic new facility that provides a real, but safe environment for the apprentices to learn. It is vital to train the next generation of railway engineers in an industry where adding specialist skills to the resource base is critical to the long-term future of railway engineering. The government continues to invest in our transport networks, and we must continue to invest in the skills needed to deliver on that investment.’


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