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RailStaff Awards: Engineering success

As one major project comes to an end another is just beginning for Jacobs, the global engineering and professional services provider.

Over the next couple of months, as a member of the REAL alliance, Jacobs will complete its work on the East Coast main line power supply upgrade project. The programme of work, which began in 2014, is upgrading the OLE and power supply infrastructure on the East Coast main line to be able to cope with the additional demand that will put on it with the introduction of the Intercity Express Trains next year.

The East Coast power supply project won the Best Project (Large) of 2017 at Network Rail’s Rail Partnership Awards, recognising the collaborative approach which has underpinned the alliance’s success.

But while this four-year project is drawing to a close, Jacobs is starting to look ahead to CP6. As a member of the Transpennine Route Upgrade alliance, Jacobs will be offering essential programme management and engineering support to ensure the flagship project achieves its approvals and budget requirements.

“With regard to CP6, the outlook is positive with significant investment,” said Mark Southwell, vice president of Jacobs. “The key is for all parties to find better ways to deliver and to meet the efficiencies that as an industry we can deliver.”

Recognition at all levels

Jacobs is sponsoring the Rail Engineer of the Year category at the 2018 RailStaff Awards, which will be held at the NEC on 29 November. Last year, Ana Walpole (pictured above) became the second female winner of the award for her work on the Wessex Capacity Programme.

“As a business, we are passionate about making sure that recognition is given to staff, at all levels of the business,” said Mark, who wanted to demonstrate this by highlighting the achievements of two Jacobs employees.

Electrification engineer Kevin Bruce alerted Network Rail to a potentially dangerous incident when he spotted a machine working in a siding close to overhead wires without isolation protection while he was travelling on the East Coast main line. His intervention could well have saved someone’s life and epitomised the company’s BeyondZero® safety culture, said Mark.

“Safety is our top priority and that relates to everything we do. Day in, day out we are presented with examples of our people having the courage to speak up and, without sounding dramatic, save lives.

“Our BeyondZero® and culture of care are embedded within the business. We record and highlight all safety observations and have mental health champions across our business. These provide an excellent platform for capturing examples of excellence among our people.”

Belief and confidence

Mark also praised the work of Keith Earnshaw, who is the engineering director for the East Coast power supply upgrade programme. He provides the engineering leadership for the combined alliance and is recognised by his peers and client as providing outstanding commitment.

It is vital, said Mark, to keep identifying these people, particularly at a time when the railway is coming in for so much public scrutiny.

“We need to give people the belief and confidence that we are doing great things that it does impact how the railways operate and ultimately how they are seen by the public. Celebrating success and learning from mistakes is essential.”

While Jacobs uses its own internal communications channels to support staff recognition, Mark sees the company’s backing of the Rail Engineer of the Year category as an opportunity to do something for the industry as a whole.

“It is important to celebrate what people have achieved and give them the recognition that is deserved. For Jacobs, it is an honour to be able to work with so many exceptional and highly skilled people, both in our own business, in our peers and of course in our client’s organisations – this is an opportunity for us to give something back.”


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