8th July Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last week the industry celebrated Rail Week and it was the perfect opportunity to show young people, parents and teachers the facilities and range of jobs the rail industry offers.

Rail Week was created by Young Rail Professionals (YRP) to show first hand that the rail sector is a great place to work-what better way to inspire young people to consider a career in the industry than by talking to people who have been there and done just that.

Throughout the week the rail sector opened its doors to the community, showcasing projects and giving insight into what it’s like to work in the industry. There was tours of depots and factories, lectures and seminars as well as volunteer staff promoting rail around schools.

In the North East alone there was a range of 10 projects to choose from, with schools, the Tyne and Wear Metro control station and Hitachi Europe opening their doors to the public.

There has never been a better time to join the rail industry, there’s a lot still to come and luckily for us it should be coming in the next five years. More than £25 billion will be invested in the UK’s rail network, but whilst most of that will be spent on High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail, there is still innovation taking place across the network.

This investment is so important for the industry, the UK rail network is the fastest growing in Europe and they’re now carrying twice as many passengers as 20 years ago. From Wales to the North East, investment is accelerating as the UK’s regions look at cheaper, more flexible solutions capable of carrying more passengers. The future is undecided, particularly for the industry, but Britain coming out of the EU could work in our favour. Politicians, granted they don’t always stick to their word, claim that freedom from the EU means the government will be able to spend more of our own money, which can be applied to regional development funds – more money for the North East to support regional economies? They certainly have my attention!

Events such as Rail Week show that, although the industry is divided by regions, we’re all working together to achieve the one giant goal. It’s great to see companies from across the country encouraging young people into rail – it’s that type of commitment and enthusiasm that we need, after all it’s all we’ve got to go off until we find out what’s instore for us following Brexit.