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If you can’t stand the heat…

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Matt Atkins

Has anyone else had enough of summer? If you’re not a fan of the heat, it’s certainly been a tough one, with two blistering heatwaves bringing the railways close to standstill. But, as weather alerts were issued and tracks buckled, the network’s staff did their utmost to keep the UK moving and make repairs once the mercury dropped. Thank you all for keeping your cool during one of the fiercest summers on record.

We have a jam-packed edition for you this month, with features covering a range of the hottest topics (obvious pun intended). To kickstart the issue, we take a look at the competition to locate Great British Railways’ (GBR) headquarters. Colin Wheeler reflects on the pros and cons of each candidate conurbation and reveals his preference for GBR’s home city.

It’s been over 12 months since a heritage rail bridge at Great Musgrave in Cumbria was infilled by National Highways (NH). In that time, regular contributor Graeme Bickerdike, a member of the Historical Railways Estate group, has campaigned tirelessly to have the work reversed. Graeme finally declares victory as National Highways has been ordered to return the bridge to its original glory.

Leading our issue focus on Training, Qualifications, and Career Progression, we explore the opportunities that HS2 is opening up in the Midlands and London as Phase 1 progresses. Delivery of HS2 relies on a huge programme of training for local talent, and, at a time when the entire industry is crying out for skilled workers, this can only have a positive impact going forward.

Continuing the emphasis on training, we speak to Chris Jones at South Western Railways, about his journey from applicant to qualified train driver. As something of a celebrity on Twitter, Chris maintains a dialogue with SWR customers, industry professionals, and anyone who has an interest in the railways.

But it’s not just the traditional talents that are in demand. The Railway Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) provides a feature on non-technical skills, highlighting the importance of qualities such as communication, conscientiousness, decision-making, and leadership, all of which are essential attributes of employees and are crucial to maintaining a safe and efficient railway.

We also take a look at the RSSB’s Annual Health and Safety Report, released in early July. Worryingly, the report suggests that public attitudes towards safety on the railway have slipped, and many more people are taking chances at stations and level crossings. Colin Wheeler’s regular safety feature picks up on a similar thread, examining the lapses of concentration which can lead to serious incident. Better communication, team cohesion, and stronger leadership could help to reduce such incidents, he suggests.

Finally, with the RailStaff Awards 2022 now just around the corner, we are pleased to reveal the theme and host of this year’s industry extravaganza. We have a festive treat in store, along with a celebrity compère, and if you haven’t booked your tickets yet, make it a priority – the Awards are certainly back with a bang!

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Image credit: Network Rail