A scheme to help address the skills issues facing the Overhead Line (OHL) sector is underway after the Carillion Rail/SPL Powerlines partnership recruited its first group of trainees.
Twenty-four trainees, split across two groups at the specialist training facilities in Doncaster, South Yorkshire and Coatbridge, east of Glasgow, will undergo a year-long training programme to arm them the skills and qualifications required to work on the UK rail network.
Network Rail is currently planning a £2billion programme of investment between 2014 and 2019 in a major electrification expansion of the UK rail network, for which Carillion Rail, working in partnership with SPL Powerlines, is part of a framework panel of tier one contractors bidding to help deliver.
It is estimated that, by 2016, the rail electrification sector will need upwards of 2,000 skilled linemen, which is ten times the current capacity.
The partnership is committed to helping overcome this challenge and has invested in training facilities that will help increase the number of skilled linemen available to the industry.
The facilities in Doncaster and Coatbridge, in addition to the partnership’s other operations in Crewe, Milton Keynes and Bishopbriggs, are centres of excellence for the industry and feature specialist training spans, which replicates OHL installation and maintenance operations.
The trainees, who were recruited locally to the two centres, will undertake an initial three-stage training programme, which will lead, ultimately to them being able to work on Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) without supervision.
Over the period of the training the group will work towards qualifications from industry body Overhead Line Equipment Competency (OLEC) at level one, two and three.
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.
Mark Davies, managing director for Carillion Rail, said:
“Addressing the skills challenges facing the sector are vital if the industry is to meet the scale of Network Rail’s electrification programme.
“In addition to supporting the growth of Carillion Rail and SPL Powerlines’ workforces, the skills development we are offering, and the investment the two organisations have made in training resources, will offer wider benefits to the electrification sector.”
Gerhard Ehringer, CEO SPL Powerlines Group, said:
“Welcoming this intake of trainees is a significant step forward for our industry’s skills requirements.
“Network Rail’s electrification programme marks a significant new chapter for this sector, but it is essential that contractors can call upon a pool of skilled workers.
“Through the creation of our centres of excellence we can arm new entrants to the industry with relevant skills and qualifications that will allow them to play an essential role in the improvement of the UK rail network.”