Editor's Comment


Time for change

Source: RTM Apr/May 16

A key theme running throughout this edition of RTM is the skills challenge and the need to deliver a step change in the speed and quality of training the rail industry offers.

The skills challenge is nothing new to us as sector, but as the HS2 Bill progresses through Parliament and the start date draws nearer, and other major projects like Crossrail 2 and HS3 have been given the green light, it is becoming ever more apparent that we still aren’t in the position where we need to be. 

Even the long-awaited Shaw Report, which didn’t recommend the full-scale privatisation of Network Rail as some suspected, called for industry-wide plans to be developed to drive skills and improve diversity in rail. At this year’s edition of Infrarail the skills debate was high on the agenda. In particular, delegates were told by senior rail training leaders that any industry-wide plans will fail without the supply chain being at the heart of the change. There is coverage from a lively skills and training panel session, featuring NSAR’s Neil Robertson and Network Rail’s Guy Wilmshurst-Smith on page 72. 

We also hear from the CEO of the soon-to-open National College for High Speed Rail, John Evans, about the challenges facing rail, why IMechE has acquired Amber Train, and HS2’s Beth West discusses how we need to do things differently in the future to ensure our sector delivers the positive changes everyone wants to see (p22). 

Once again, the word ‘collaboration’ seemed to be on everyone’s lips at Infrarail whether they were discussing major projects, skills, devolution or fostering innovation in the sector.  We have full coverage from this year’s show starting from p25. 

As I have mentioned the Shaw Report briefly, it is worth noting that she did call for greater private sector investment in the sector and “faster and deeper” route devolution by Network Rail. 

While the DfT has yet to respond to her recommendations, Sir Peter Hendy has made it clear that he is delighted with the direction of travel. And, as we move towards the Digital Railway, he looks forward to what he calls the future ‘metronisation’ of the UK rail network. A foundation stone for unlocking this change in delivery has been Network Rail’s ORBIS programme, and we hear how the company has completed rolling out its aerial data to all the routes, and what this will mean for staff (p61). 

Throughout this edition we have industry reaction to the Shaw Report, updates on major modernisation projects such as Paddington and Waterloo, and we learn about the development of innovative rolling stock and how new technology is improving asset management and testing in the sector. 

The one thing that is clear in this edition is we all must be ready to embrace change in the very near future. 

David Stevenson



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