Latest Rail News


iRail 2017: Hands-on approach highlights wide-ranging rail careers

The eighth annual iRail event took place yesterday at Derby’s Pride Park stadium, giving 12 groups of secondary school children the chance to take part in an interactive design challenge designed to inspire young people into careers in the rail industry.

The bulk of the day centred around this year’s engineering challenge, which tasked pupils with building a paper bridge to go over a curved section of model track underneath it.

The bridge had to be wide enough to allow a model train carrying a tube to safely pass underneath, and students were judged on their designs based on whether they could hold the weight of a model train, as well as how cost-effective they were (teams had the choice to buy additional materials to improve their models) and how innovative their designs were.

The two top teams, Loughborough High School and Lady Manor were invited to present their completed designs, whilst explaining their choices and evaluating their work in front of the judges.

The eventual winners of the day were Loughborough High School, who were praised for thinking about using cylindrical and triangular shapes to make their structures stronger, as well as for opting to spend £100,000 of their budget on a ‘test’, allowing the team to analyse their bridge to make adjustments before handing it to the judges.

Earlier in the day, pupils were given a tour of Bombardier’s Derby facility, where they were taken through the manufacturing process behind rolling stock construction, as well as Network Rail’s base, where they were given a tour around the infrastructure owner’s mobile maintenance train.

iRail revolves around giving young people a hands-on approach to learning about jobs in the rail industry and making apprentice schemes visible to them, whilst also hosting a number of exhibitors including Network Rail, the RAIB and HS2 Ltd, among others.

Speaking to RTM, Simon Lidgett, senior HR business partner at Network Rail, said: “iRail is a great event, it brings young adults who have an interest in engineering out for real-life experiences like being shown around the mobile maintenance train where we can show them close-up what engineering is all about at.”

Lidgett also emphasised that rail careers do not have to be entirely about engineering, as he described Network Rail as “more than just an engineering company”.

He said: “We have financial, commercial and HR divisions, even though iRail is aimed at the engineering industry, it’s good to remind young people that there are other careers in rail as well.”

A number of engineers who had once been apprentices themselves were also attending the event as role models for the teenagers, discussing the positive impact these schemes can have on their career.

“Both Katie, our secretary manager of the mobile maintenance train, and Albert, an IP project manager, came in as apprentices,” Lidgett said. “Within Network Rail we have an apprenticeship scheme and graduate scheme so we are constantly looking to get young people in with energy and drive to be the next engineers.”

Alaistair Dunn, an assistant head teacher at Leeds Brook Community School, added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for the pupils to see rather than get told what happens in these facilities.

“The visit to Bombardier and the rail repair facility allows them to get a hands-on look at what happens rather than be told by their teachers who don’t really know.

“I have seen people being inspired into engineering who may not have thought that engineering was a career for them. Seeing things being made makes such a difference to pupils.”

One pupil, Max Slater, 13, from George Spencer Academy in Nottinghamshire, told RTM he had enjoyed his experience at iRail: “I’ve found it fun. It’s challenging and definitely teaching us about things that I never thought I would have known before.

“I am thinking of being an engineer in the future and this is definitely helping me with making that decision.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Northern leaders warn Treasury against scrapping under-fire HS2

23/05/2019Northern leaders warn Treasury against scrapping under-fire HS2

Scrapping HS2 would be a “disaster” and would undermine Britain’s “national prosperity for decades to come,” more t... more >
Network Rail unveils new regional managing directors

23/05/2019Network Rail unveils new regional managing directors

Network Rail has announced five new regional managing directors as part of its “evolution” towards a more passenger-focused approach.... more >
£800m worth of rail haulage contracts awarded by Network Rail

22/05/2019£800m worth of rail haulage contracts awarded by Network Rail

Network Rail has awarded contracts for rail haulage and the operations of its engineering trains and seasonal treatment services for Control Peri... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Meeting clients, suppliers and stepping forward

23/05/2019Meeting clients, suppliers and stepping forward

The Midlands 30-year plan will deliver many economic benefits and will need a wide and diverse supply chain to deliver some of the key projects. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


The railway franchising model is broken, and passengers are paying the price

13/05/2019The railway franchising model is broken, and passengers are paying the price

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch and chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), gives her view on the state of the UK’s ... more >
NSAR: Tackling the digital skills shortage

13/05/2019NSAR: Tackling the digital skills shortage

The National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) chief executive Neil Robertson returns to write for RTM, this time, to assess the digital skills shor... more >
Delivering cost-effective electrification

13/05/2019Delivering cost-effective electrification

David Clarke, technical director of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), sets out the findings of a new report on how rail electrification can... more >
5G: An opportunity to revolutionise on-train connectivity

13/05/20195G: An opportunity to revolutionise on-train connectivity

Simon Holmes, group head of digital (engineering) at FirstGroup, introduces us to the 5G solution being delivered for the rail sector.  ... more >