Shadow rail minister Lillian Greenwood rolled into Doncaster to see how the electrification skills shortage is being tackled.
Leading integrated support services company Carillion and Austrian based SPL Powerlines hosted a visit by the shadow rail minister to its state-of-the-art training facility in Doncaster to see how a joint programme between the two companies is addressing a skills shortage in the rail industry.
As the UK embarks on a £2billion plus electrification programme of the rail network over the next five years it is estimated that the country needs 10 times the current number of skilled and qualified linemen.
Last year Carillion Rail and SPL Powerlines announced a Co-operation Agreement for the delivery of the electrification programme and are now working together to train new staff who will deliver the electrification work won by the partners.
Mrs Greenwood, shadow rail minister and MP for Nottingham South visited the Doncaster facility to meet senior managers from Carillion Rail and SPL Powerlines as well as seeing some of the training activities and talking to the trainees.
Speaking after the event she said: “I am very pleased to have been able to visit the Carillion and SPL Powerlines training centre in Doncaster, which is a great example of companies involved in the rail industry coming together to invest in the new generation of highly skilled workers we need to roll out the electrification of our railways.
“It was great to have the opportunity to speak with some of the trainees and I welcome their enthusiasm and commitment to gaining skills that are vital to maintaining the UK’s infrastructure today and in years to come.”
Paul Storey, head of electrification for Carillion Rail said: “We were delighted to have the shadow rail minister visit our facility and show her the work we are doing to provide the next generation of skilled linemen. The electrification programme is a major investment for theUKwhich, once complete, will deliver benefits across the country. In the past this type of programme has suffered from peaks and troughs of activity which has had a knock-on effect of preventing the industry from delivering a long-term training programme to ensure we have the right people, with the right skills. That issue is now being tackled.”
Simon Talman, Operations Director for SPL Powerlines UK said: “It was good that Lillian Greenwood not only came to listen to what the senior management had to say, but she also showed an interest in what our trainees had to say about their experiences thus far.
“This was important for our trainees and will give them a lift, as motivation is key for keeping them interested and committed for the future.
“We have instigated a programme to make our training as diverse as possible with integrating elements of health and safety, plant utilisation and explanation behind how electrification works and the importance of keeping the railway operational whilst improving the infrastructure.
“We are all on a journey for a bright future with sustainable employment and business profit growth to ensure our people and their families stay loyal, committed and happy in their work.”
The Doncaster facility is one of a network of Carillion Rail/SPL Powerlines training operations around theUK, including Coatbridge, Crewe, Milton Keynes and Bishopbriggs, which are centres of excellence for the industry.
Each centre includes specialist training spans which replicate overhead line installation and maintenance operations. Trainees undertake an initial three-stage training programme working towards qualifications from industry body Overhead Line Equipment Competency (OLEC) at level 1, 2 and 3. Modules include Personal Track Safety (PTS) manual handling and harness use through to working on OLE under supervision.
Once the main body of the training programme is complete after a year the trainees will be placed on an OLEC3 course which, once passed and after a period of mentoring and assessment they will be able to work unsupported on OLE projects.