Training facilities inspection

Derek Walker, NSARE’s training & accreditation manager, explains why NSARE was requested to undertake an exercise to confirm that all the sites currently used for ‘Track Induction’, ‘Machine Controller’, ‘Crane Controller’ and ‘On Track Plant Operator’ training met the requirements laid down by Network Rail.

It had been some years since the approval of these sites and whilst Network Rail/ Achilles previously approved the sites, the current list was dated and included companies not currently delivering training and assessment in the industry anymore.

The project aim was to collate a register of approved training facilities, which would become the authorised register for the practical training in TIC/MC/CC/OTPO.

A nationwide inspection

I started the process of inspections in January 2013, and completed the final inspection on April 10. Over this period, I allocated approximately 2.5 days per week to visit the training and assessment companies. The inspections undertaken were nationwide, ranging from Glasgow in the north to Portsmouth in the south, and South Wales. 43 TIC sites were approved, and 23 MC/CC/ OTPO. Some companies had one area they wished me to inspect whilst others had several – such as heritage railway sites.

The results of the training and assessment practical areas were varied throughout the country. Some sites were much larger than others and some had huge investment. Others were set to the original Network Rail track requirements issued some years ago.

There is nothing to worry about following the inspections. All the premises I visited were compliant, but some had seen considerably more investment than others. The improvements I see are for such investment from the companies in the installation of the track facilities throughout the UK, including HM Prisons in installing the track induction training facility within their institutions, which is a real step forward to helping the less fortunate in our society. This wasn’t around when the training was first introduced. Network Rail was instrumental in having these sites approved for the training.

For me, the most important moments were when I visited the training and assessment provider and they had made every effort to show what they had achieved and had clear plans for the future as to where they would expand the training and assessment provision by adding to the current facility already in situ. There was great pride for the most part in what they had achieved, and where the providers had won contracts they had invested in the track and equipment.

Investment in the industry

It is difficult to single out any one provider, but a lot of effort has been put into the facilities. I felt that in every case the training and assessment providers made me welcome.

People still had their day job to do and yet still made available senior people from their organisations to show me around their premises and reveal their internal/external practical training facilities. Some had even prepared agendas for the visit, maximising their time with me and were able to discuss delivery of practical training required for the industry.

I expect that if I have to visit the training and assessment providers again they will have continued their good work, building on what they have already achieved. The project was an interesting and enjoyable one.

I was pleased to meet some of the providers that I have only dealt with via e-mail or telephone, and it was good to put faces to the names. I have been in railway training now for over 20 years and I still enjoy working within this field and hope to continue so for many years to come.


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