Rail is all about engineering, right? Wrong! Okay, well surely I'm going to spend all day out on the tracks? Nope! For Rail Week 2017, we spoke to our friends across the rail industry to bust some of those myths that might just be standing between you and your dream job.
'5 rail industry myths that could be standing between you and your dream career'
1. Maintenance means high-vis and dirt, right?
Kendra Ayling, head of marketing, Hitachi Rail Europe:
Wrong! At Hitachi we’re all about innovation in rail - and being a technology company at heart definitely helps. When it comes to maintaining the 122 new Intercity Express Trains entering service in late-2017 we’re using big data and IoT (the Internet of Things) to change the way we maintain trains.
What if you could enter a ‘Minority Report’ way of thinking – predicting faults and possible problems before they even happened? That’s exactly what we will be doing – through the use of data analytics. Gone are the days where every component will be checked over by hand to ensure efficiency – we are about to pull thousands of pieces of data from a train moving at 125mph and send these data pieces back to our Train Maintenance Centres around the UK.
If a door is taking that little bit too long to close, we’ll have trend analysis graphs and running data to show exactly why that might be. Our maintenance engineers can head straight to the door in question when the train finishes service and get right onto fixing the problem. This means more reliable trains, more trains in service and happier passengers across our railway. Innovation is changing our railways for the better – though we can’t promise there won’t be a bit of high-vis being worn still!
2. It's a male-dominated industry
Adeline Ginn, founder of Women in Rail, general counsel for Angel Trains:
Women have worked in the railway for decades. The same number of women work in rail today as they did at the end of World War II. Rail is a sector where women have heritage, knowledge and experience.
To tackle the skills gap, rail needs to identify, attract and foster the very best talent in the field and deliver sustainable year on year growth in the number of women entering rail, engineering and technical apprenticeship, break the glass ceiling on senior representation of women in the industry, shout about our flexible working practices, embrace the “returnship” agenda and invest in training and mentoring support.
When we speak to young girls in school today, who we hope to be the rail leaders of tomorrow, we need to give them the reassurance that rail is an industry where they will be looked after, supported, a sector that will match their ambition and offer them an exciting and rewarding career.
3. It isn’t exciting and modern
River Tammor Baig, chief executive and founder, Hack Trains:
Aside from health, there is no other industry that has such a massive impact on people's daily lives. Whether that's using the train to go to school, work, or to meet loved ones, we all eventually find ourselves using the rail network some point in our lives.
Rail needs more young creative thinkers and engineering talent to help it address the needs for the next generation of travellers, this can only be achieved if ambitious people like you enter the fray and help create the future.
Hack Train organise 48-hour weekend technology event occurring annually in November. 120+ developers, designers and entrepreneurs take part to build solutions and new product and innovations to solve problems in the rail industry. Three different trains take the participants across the UK and mainland Europe to various locations as they test and produce their products.
4. You have to be an engineer
Paul Case, national chair of Young Rail Professionals (YRP) and project manager at London Underground:
There are many different career paths available within the rail industry. For example, I studied Politics at University and can’t confess to having had any great plan to work in rail. In fact I spent some time working in a number of jobs, including undertaking analysis for Norfolk Police and Fundraising for an Essex charity. After completing a Masters in Political Science I was looking for graduate schemes and only then came across the project management programme at Transport for London. Needless to say, I haven’t looked back.
In my current role I manage complex infrastructure renewal and enhancement projects for London Underground. Which is CV-talk for: "I help prevent our old and incredible strained infrastructure from falling apart"!
It’s challenging and complex, but I love the variety of work I do, the constant learning, the dynamism of the industry and the opportunity to work with many different people with unique skills and backgrounds. On any project I will work with engineers, risk managers, commercial and finance professionals, planners, health and safety experts, construction staff, marketing and stakeholder engagement managers, external stakeholders and other project managers, just to name a few. All of these different skills are needed to make any project a success.
5. It’s all about tracks, trains and stations
Bridget Jackson, head of benefits management, HS2:
I’m an artist. I graduated from university with a first class degree in Fine Art and I spend my spare time grinding my own paints, making dyes and, given half a chance, exhibiting the resulting paintings. So you might wonder what I’m doing working for Europe’s biggest infrastructure project; the UK’s first intercity railway built North of London for over a century: High Speed Two.
I work for a high speed railway company because I’m not only an artist, I’m also an accountant, an auditor and a project manager. It’s my job to make sure that the new railway does what it says it’s going to do. That’s not just building tracks, trains and stations, because HS2 is so much more than just a railway.
HS2 is about growing the country’s economy, particularly in the North and the Midlands,.It’s about creating jobs and nurturing skills; we have to protect the environment and create better ways of doing things. And it’s about keeping all the communities we’re affecting involved and up to date with the railway as it’s built and operated.
To celebrate Rail Week 2017, we're giving you the opportunity to pose your questions to the rail companies themselves in our special forum - check it out here.