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Careers in the Rail Industry: Great Opportunities For Skilled Workers

Jun 26, 2008
Following privatisation, British Rail was divided into two main elements. Network Rail is the owner and operator of the national rail network in the UK, and provides rail network access to train and freight operators.

Network Rail's two main activities, infrastructure maintenance and track renewal, are provided in-house and by a supply-chain of contractors and sub-contractors. Responsibilities cover 20,000 miles of track, 1000 signal boxes, 40,000 bridges and tunnels; 18 major stations; 3m passengers a day and 32,000 employees. Total expenditure to operate, maintain and renew (OM&R) the railway increased from under 3 billion in 1995 to 96 to a peak of around 6.5 billion in 2003 to 04 in the wake of the Hatfield derailment and the significant increase in activity levels and unit costs. Expenditure is projected to be around 5 billion a year over the next few years.

The second part of the renationalised railway system consists of Network Rail's main customers: the 21 passenger and four freight train operating companies, who provide train services on the infrastructure that the company owns and maintains. Network Rail does not run passenger services directly; ultimately both Network Rail and the train operating companies have the shared responsibility of delivering train services to the traveling public.

Many analysts consider the prospects for the rail industry to be extremely positive. Unprecedented government investment to upgrade the UK's rail infrastructure, passenger numbers at their highest level for sixty years, rapidly increasing freight traffic and performances improving all contribute to many new and exciting opportunities for organisations and individuals involved in the industry. It's clearly accepted within the industry that these positive trends create new challenges to accommodate this record growth and plan ahead for future expansion.

Perhaps the major challenge the rail industry faces is finding suitably skilled engineering and construction staff who can help deliver a safe and reliable rail network. It's an ongoing issue being at least partially addressed by the development of significant in-house engineering and management skills, including funding of apprenticeship and foundation degree schemes operated by Network Rail and many of the larger companies such as First Great Western and EWS (English, Welsh and Scottish railways). Additional challenges such as effectively optimising the existing network, investing in large-scale projects, and promoting sustainable development are also being tackled head-on with plenty of new recruits required

Within Network Rail, one of the train operators or in one of the many other companies that supply and support the industry positions within the rail industry are varied, stimulating and decently paid. You'll find pretty much any sort of position you could imagine from civil, electrical and mechanical engineers who might deal with track and train maintenance, signal design and implementation; Planners who'll maintain, plan, schedule, allocate and manage resources; QS (Quantity Surveyor); Project Managers; Construction; Safety; I.T. and CAD Design. The list is almost endless.

There's also no shortage of administrative and rail management positions, Rail Operations Management for example, who are responsible for the operational and strategic management of company staff, services and infrastructure, along with accounting, auditing, sales, marketing and communication opportunities.
About the Author
Duncan Freer - Director - Rail Jobs Search is a job site dedicated to the specific needs of candidates who work in the building services and Rail industry in the UK. The site also provides recruiters with a cost effective service to source top quality candidates. For interviews, images or comments contact: Duncan Freer Director Email: duncan@railjobsearch.com
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