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National trackside training academy opened

The state-of-the-art trackside National Training Academy was officially opened yesterday in Sheffield, with music mogul and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman OBE cutting the ribbon. 

Linbrooke Services Ltd and specialist training arm ntrs (Network Training and Resource Solutions Limited) have developed the all-encompassing facility specialising in Telecommunications, Power and Signalling training. 

During the open day, visitors were given a tour of the high-quality facility that includes an authentic track layout with a simulated rail platform and a live fibre network, which incorporates both legacy and 21st century equipment. 

Developed to address the skills shortage in the rail and engineering sector, the National Training Academy delivers world-class training on accredited courses. It also delivers a range of resettlement training for armed forces leavers on behalf of the MoD. 

At the grand opening, Pete Waterman OBE said: “I’m passionate about training and have fought all my life for training. We don’t give enough time for training and we don’t need to convince all the Network Rail delegates here that what happened at Christmas is part of the problems that we do have. We need to take training far more seriously than we have ever done. 

“My plea is ‘more centres like this, please’, [and] a change in attitude from the government that employers need a break and some help to train up the next generation.” 

Speaking to RTM, Jeremy Candfield, director general of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said that it was very good to see private companies responding to the demand for more and more skills across the railway industry. 

“The demand is prospectively huge, we know that there are shortages – highlighted by NSARE – so it’s great to see something been done about it on the ground,” he added. 

More than 100 delegates attended the event, which gave them first-hand experience of seeing Linbrooke’s training in action. It also allowed them to meet many of the company’s former trainee graduates who have been able to secure jobs with the company – many of them ex-military. 

Lee Hallam, CEO of Linbrooke Services Ltd, said he was enormously proud of the facility.

“But it isn’t about where we are, it’s about where we’re going. It’s about the employment opportunities that are going to come out of it and the world-class training facility they can learn in. That’s what excites me,” he said. 

“This allows us to turnout multi-discipline engineers with hands-on training in a safe working environment with a good culture and track record. We’ve been delivering this eight to 10 years now.” 

He added that half of the company’s 300 staff are ex-military people, and the “vein” that runs through the business is military. 

“I think it says a lot about our culture as a business as we have a fantastic safety record, good on quality, good on delivery and we have a die-hard attitude,” said Hallam. “It also allows us to bring people in from the military to resettle in here and we aim to bring children through as well.” 

Although not able to attend the event, Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, sent a statement. He said: “In order to build world-class railway you need a world-class workforce. With an engineering industry that is recognised around the globe, South Yorkshire is the perfect home for the trackside National Training Academy. 

“As part of our long-term economic plan, we’re investing record amounts in the UK’s railways by generating jobs and training opportunities. This new academy will ensure the local people in Chapeltown see the benefits of this investment, as well as developing a lasting legacy for the future. I sincerely congratulate Lee Hallam and everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition.” 

Full coverage of the event will be in the February/March edition of RTM. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Matthew Game MAPM   11/02/2015 at 22:47

The time, expenditure and sheer effort that the core Linbrooke team have been putting in to the build-up of the business and this new training facility over the recent years deserves a great level of appreciation and recognition. The personal challenges that each of the team have taken on to get Linbrooke where they are and where they plan to be deserves support and respect from our industry. Our CP5 challenges will only be achievable if we as an industry support small-to-medium businesses like Linbrooke to develop the required skillsets that the country needs. These companies need to have their endeavours promoted and supported at every level.

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