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NR may take training assessment back in-house over safety concerns

There is a possibility that Network Rail may take the audit and assessment of rail skills training back in-house because of concerns that providers are not following safety standards.

The infrastructure owner currently delegates responsibility for assessing and accrediting skills providers on all its Sentinel-related training and assessment programmes to the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR).

NSAR recently suspended UK Rail Skills Training (UKRS) after finding that it failed to demonstrate strong procedural processes, managed fatigue and working hours ineffectively, and had incomplete Safe System of Work Packs and training pack verification which was significantly below standard.

UKRS is now seeking an injunction from the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) against the decision.

At a hearing of UKRS’s application on 21 July, Gordon Wignall, barrister for NSAR, said: “We are, one might say, in rather uncharted waters. There is the possibility that Network Rail might choose to take auditing and assessment back in-house.”

Wignall said that Network Rail is “very nervous” about the fact that safety standards at UKRS are being challenged at all, and suggested that they were afraid that there would be “further claims” about other providers.

He added that there was a “real fear” that some licensed providers are “simply accrediting people” and allowing them access to Sentinel Cards without providing any training at all, although this did not necessarily include UKRS.

Wignall also said there was a “likelihood of redundancies” from NSAR’s auditing team if Network Rail does decide to take training auditing and assessment back in-house.

The CAT ruled that the case should be postponed to allow time to decide whether NSAR’s training and assessment auditing decisions are subject to competition law.

Wignall said that because of NSAR’s “great concerns” about safety standards and the risk of Network Rail taking assessment in-house, the next hearing should take place on the earliest dates given, 20 and 21 September.

Tristan Jones, barrister for UKRS, asked why NSAR had already agreed to a postponement of proceedings if it had “genuine concerns”. However, the court ruled that the case should be heard on the later date of 6 October after Jones said UKRS would need the time to prepare its case.

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Incandecent   29/07/2016 at 14:21

NSAR barrister makes a statement, RTM reports it as the future. NSAR's own barrister is only pointing out that his own client has isuues. AFAIK NR has never had in house audit and assessment of rail skills training, railtrack did briefly and RTAS Achilles and ARTP have succesfully manged the system until recent times.

Mr.Impartial   29/07/2016 at 15:42

I agree with incandescent. NSAR has many internal issues that they need to get a grip on. Should NR take it back in house? Can't help thinking that would be the best way forward for the industry.

Railtruth   29/07/2016 at 17:12

Hmmm... NSAR are certainly rattled. There has been a long standing battle between NSAR and ARTP/Training Companies regarding the audit process and who actually audits the auditors and more importantly "Their processes"? I do know that there are speculations surrounding personal relations within NSAR and various training organisations that have information passed to them when NSAR are about to suspend a company so they can get first the first bite after the axe has been swung!! Like all underhand business deals this is normally aired on the golf course!!!! FORE... Apologies for my lack of professionalism... The issues are definitely within and continue after the hearing with NSAR feeling the need to attempt to justify their position by blatantly attempting to discredit UKRS on their own website whilst UKRS have chosen not to show their cards and retake the moral high-ground by remaining professional in their responses to press and to their clients ONLY stating the facts. I know both entities and unfortunately the credibility of one organisation is seriously damaged! Best of luck to UKRS, there are a lot of other companies monitoring this situation and quietly supporting you in this "Unchartered Territory" FORE!!!

Readbetweenthelines   30/07/2016 at 14:57

I have been following this story since the rumor mill started earlier in the year. There are a number of issues that are glaringly obvious to the lay-person. Why does RTM appear to be giving a supportive arm to NSAR? There are most definitely audit issues from within NSAR! I am agreeing with Railtruth. NSAR are rattled and appear to be launching a dirty tricks campaign against UKRS who have had the courage to question their integrity via the legal system. Incandecent: you are on the mark with your comment - a big thumbs up. It appears to be death by audit again - this was very common in the early 00's and a stop was brought to that with a robust system. Why has this reared it's head again? I would also like to draw your attention back to the first paragraph in this latest article - I personally don't believe that it's the training suppliers that are at fault but NSAR themselves who are incompetent in managing the process. This case is certainly being monitored industry wide, using Mr Wignell's phrase Uncharted waters is certainly being entered and this will undoubtedly shake this sector up.

Proudtobeatrainer   02/08/2016 at 15:46

Direct action is needed now by Network Rail. Investigate the conflicts of interest, the old pals acts and the tip offs. Then begin to work with those of us who are wish to work to the standards to restore the halcyon days. Come back Carson, all is forgiven.

Incandescent   03/08/2016 at 16:21

Readbetweenthelines I also added a further paragraph referring to the view of ORR which the editor has deleted, impartiality of the press??

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