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NTAR showcases VR tech training to rail minister

New virtual reality technology currently being used to train the next generation of engineers was put on show for the rail minister, Paul Maynard, when he visited NTAR’s Northampton base last week.

NTAR provides up to 20,000 man days of training per year and is at the forefront of closing the engineering skills gap by providing state-of-the-art training for young apprentices, graduates and interns whilst also helping railway workers to improve their skills.

The latest technology being used to train engineers including virtual reality headsets, 3D digital modelling and augmented reality were put on show for the minister.

ETCS digital signalling, which is already used by Siemens on the London Underground’s Victoria Line and is being tested by Hitachi on its Intercity Express Programme trains was also put on show to demonstrate how it is being utilised to provide customers with a quicker, more regular service.

Commenting on the technology, Maynard said: “From the tip of Scotland all the way to Cornwall, our rail system needs to be the best. This can only happen if we have the best engineers, the best trains and the very best customer service.

“That is why this government is investing more money in the railway than at any time since the Victorian era – another period when rail engineers and operators changed the way this country travels and does business.”

Simon Rennie, general manager at NTAR, added the organisation was delighted to recently host the secretary of state for transport at the launch of the government’s Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy (TISS), and “it is great to welcome the DfT back to Northampton to see how we’ve established ourselves as a real asset for the industry”.

“With the demands of modern trains and new technology, the next generation of engineers need to be trained to the highest possible level,” said Rennie. “We are committed to ensuring our students and apprentices have the chance to build an exciting and fulfilling career within an ever-changing industry.”

Back in December, rail industry leaders launched the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan, which aims to tackle the rail industry’s growing challenge in finding and training new recruits.

The plan, developed in response to the government’s TISS, was developed in collaboration with over 60 businesses across the rail sector and will be delivered by TOCs, infrastructure managers, colleges, trainers and academia, along with Young Rail Professionals and Women in Rail. It hopes to tackle the chronic skills shortage in the rail industry, with research estimating that a lack of investment in skills will cost the industry over £300m by 2024, set to escalate to over £1bn 10 years later.

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Andrew Gwilt   14/02/2017 at 00:51

I like the idea of this. This could mean that new schemes and infrastructure could be planned more and also to bring new opportunities for new apprentices and students to get them working and to kick start new projects for the UK's railway industry such as Crossrail (Elizabeth Line), Crossrail 2, HS2, HS3 etc. Investment in maintaining the railways and to keep our railways safe and even more new trains to be built in the future as train manufacturers such as Hitachi, Siemens, Bombardier, CAF, Stadler and Alstom are currently building new trains and/or planning to build new trains for the UK.

James Brown   14/02/2017 at 11:53

Isn't 20,000 man days of training a year a bit disappointing given the investment made? That would work out as less than an equivalent 100 full time students! What are they planning to do to improve this figure? How are they justifying the large investment in a stand alone facility as opposed to supporting existing UK university/college engineering departments that generate far greater quantities of training for lower investment?

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