Building on the success of last year’s launch, Rail Week 2017 showed a new class of prospective rail professionals the exciting possibilities presented by a career in rail.
Held during the second week of October, this year’s Rail Week was supported by 80 organisations and saw 50 visits and events organised around the country.
Young Rail Professionals (YRP) – the campaign lead – estimates that the Rail Week message has continued to grow – this year reaching more than 3,000 young people and their influencers, who can include teachers, parents and careers advisers.
One of the events that signalled the start of this year’s Rail Week was the launch of a new joint initiative between train operator CrossCountry, the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) and Newcastle College’s Rail Academy. At its heart, the partnership aims to augment the classroom studies of the academy’s students by giving them more hands-on experience and access to rail industry staff.
CrossCountry’s managing director, Andy Cooper, said, ‘This partnership is a great opportunity for us all to work together to help the Academy’s students gain some real-life railway experience, which will add true value to their knowledge of the rail sector. The North East was the birthplace of the passenger railway, so it is fitting that we help the region’s students as they pursue an exciting career in helping build the railway of the future.’
Head of the Newcastle Rail Academy, Scott Johnson, said, ‘Our partners will bring enormous benefits to the employability of our students. The rail industry is a complex sector. Working with external partners provides our students with ways to better understand and experience the world beyond the classroom.’
Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership officer, Fiona Forsythe, added, ‘We are delighted to be a partner in this venture and already have many projects lined up for everyone to get involved in. Helping the students experience how a railway works beyond the classroom can only build their experience and chances of a career in the industry, and it is a joint relationship as they will have a chance to benefit the region and its rail users.’
Around the country
Three hundred miles south in Chippenham, Siemens Rail Automation hosted a visit at its site, offering tours and posing engineering challenges for its visitors to solve. The company also opened the doors of its Three Bridges depot in Crawley.
There were examples of these kind of initiatives all around the country. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) ran daily events for undergraduate students in London, Network Rail visited John Ruskin College’s annual careers event in Croydon and key stage one and two pupils in Leeds visited a Northern Rail depot.
The opening of two new rail academies during the same week also helped raise the profile of the event. The National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) in Doncaster and Alstom’s new academy in Widnes both opened their doors in the same month.
May-Ann Lew, Rail Week project lead, Young Rail Professionals and consultant at SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit, ‘Rail Week is our opportunity to showcase the range of different careers and skills in our sector and encourage people from all backgrounds to join rail.
‘There are so many exciting and innovative rail projects coming to fruition and it is essential we attract young people to ensure they are delivered. We have had loads of great events so far and the enthusiasm from teachers, students and the industry has been amazing.’
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said the railway had something to offer people from all different backgrounds. ‘I’m delighted to be supporting Rail Week, which highlights the huge range of careers, skills and opportunities open to people from every background. We want to inspire young people, to give them the chance to see that they can make a difference in the rail industry, and it is great that companies across our thriving sector are reaching out to schools, colleges and universities to attract the next generation of rail professionals.’