Question about planning

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Philip

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Internally a TOC has advertised an apprenticeship for train planning, with the work being towards gaining skills and experience and a Level 4 Apprenticeship Standard in Project Management. I'm not considering applying as it will be a fair drop in wages and only lasts for 15 months, and beyond this would mean having to apply for a vacancy again; it is just to gain experience, skills and qualifications, rather than a staged entry into a planning job. However, I think this is a job I could do well with and perhaps something I would enjoy, but is this kind of apprenticeship experience and qualification required when applying for any planning jobs within the industry?
 
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Stigy

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Internally a TOC has advertised an apprenticeship for train planning, with the work being towards gaining skills and experience and a Level 4 Apprenticeship Standard in Project Management. I'm not considering applying as it will be a fair drop in wages and only lasts for 15 months, and beyond this would mean having to apply for a vacancy again; it is just to gain experience, skills and qualifications, rather than a staged entry into a planning job. However, I think this is a job I could do well with and perhaps something I would enjoy, but is this kind of apprenticeship experience and qualification required when applying for any planning jobs within the industry?
Is it not advertised as a secondment?
 

Watershed

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Internally a TOC has advertised an apprenticeship for train planning, with the work being towards gaining skills and experience and a Level 4 Apprenticeship Standard in Project Management. I'm not considering applying as it will be a fair drop in wages and only lasts for 15 months, and beyond this would mean having to apply for a vacancy again; it is just to gain experience, skills and qualifications, rather than a staged entry into a planning job. However, I think this is a job I could do well with and perhaps something I would enjoy, but is this kind of apprenticeship experience and qualification required when applying for any planning jobs within the industry?
It depends on the situation, but previous experience is not an inherent prerequisite to a job in planning. Like driving and in fact many jobs throughout the industry, it is more about your own personal qualities and traits. Attention to detail, good teamwork, and an ability to 'think out of the box' are probably the most important characteristics you need.

You have previously mentioned you work in a ticket office. I'm sure there will be many examples you could use from your time there, if you want to apply for a planning job.
 

Roger1973

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I don't work in train planning, but with that caveat -

As has already been asked, is it a secondment? Generally, if an organisation offers a temporary role to internal candidates, it's on the basis of it being a secondment, in that you go back to your previous job at the end of it rather than have to apply for jobs or leave.

Having said that, I'd be surprised if a TOC would invest 15 months' training for a role like this if it didn't intend (even if it's not offering a guarantee) to keep those people on in the new role, I can't see any TOC running a scheme like this so that individuals can go and get jobs elsewhere at the end of it.

Train planning is something of a niche - there's not a huge number of vacancies, but I don't think there's a huge number of experienced train planners out there looking for jobs.

I'm aware that some TOCs have advertised for trainee (i.e. who have not done a scheme like this) as well as experienced train planners in the last year or two, so as with any job, new people are brought in from time to time as well as experienced people - there's going to be some experienced train planners who for one reason or another are willing to move to a different TOC, but probably not enough to fill all the vacancies.

Similarly, Network Rail take on trainee timetable planners from outside the industry now and then.

I have seriously considered both in the past year and for personal reasons not pursued it. The roles I'd considered were on the basis of full time employee status rather than apprentice status, although with any new job there's a trial period and broadly speaking you've few rights even to try and claim unfair dismissal within the first 2 years of any job.

Trainee salary (London and south east) seems to be around the 25 K range, experienced jobs start around 30 K.

Obviously you know what you're on now and how long term secure your current job is likely to be (predicting job security is not an exact science at the moment) but there's going to need to be some train planning function needed in the future even if that's mainly to plan cuts in the short term.
 

Philip

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Thanks for the replies. I'll double check it but I don't remember seeing any mention of it being a secondment; it clearly said an apprenticeship for 15 months, with it's own salary and at the end it said 'with the opportunity to apply for any vacant job with Northern after completing the apprenticeship'. It has been advertised internally.

As mentioned above I work in ticket office. I'm guessing a knowledge of timetables and connections links the booking office to planning? Grant Shapps has provided some reassurance about wanting to freeze pay and instead protect jobs. But even at the fairly busy station where I work, we seem to be twiddling our thumbs more than most other railway jobs right now!
 

CW2

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Philip,

I started in a booking office many moons ago, and progressed into train planning and control office work, then onto other things such as shipping. Channel Tunnel freight, and infrastructure planning.
A knowledge of railway geography and timetables would be a very good starting point. Gaining a sound knowledge of train planning will be useful to you whatever direction your railway career takes you.
Good luck.
 

Romsey

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As CW2 says, train planning experience will give you a head start for many career paths in the railway. Train planning was seen as an excellent start for access planning (engineering works) because you understand how service alterations and engineering works interface.
 

Philip

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Philip,

I started in a booking office many moons ago, and progressed into train planning and control office work, then onto other things such as shipping. Channel Tunnel freight, and infrastructure planning.
A knowledge of railway geography and timetables would be a very good starting point. Gaining a sound knowledge of train planning will be useful to you whatever direction your railway career takes you.
Good luck.
As CW2 says, train planning experience will give you a head start for many career paths in the railway. Train planning was seen as an excellent start for access planning (engineering works) because you understand how service alterations and engineering works interface.

Thanks both. The Northern apprenticeship vacancy doesn't look like a secondment having checked again; it is for 2 years rather than 15 months and does clearly say the opportunity to APPLY for a vacant job in Northern upon completion of the apprenticeship. So it looks like I would have to leave my booking office job with potentially no job after 2 years.

I've had a look at a few other TOCs and found some roles that aren't apprenticeship, one of them being an STP Support Planner, which is to do with access planning as you mentioned Romsey. This does list current or previous experience in the train planning environment, or a knowledge of the planning industry systems, as key skills/experience in the application part. I suppose there's no harm in applying and using my years in the booking office and use of TRUST to show I have at least some knowledge of the train movements and timetables, even if no direct experience in the planning sector!
 

CW2

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In that case I'd suggest you also make yourself aware of the Network Rail Operational Rules:
NR Operational Rules
Obviously you don't need to memorise them! But you would need to demonstrate that you know what they are, how they are applied, and where to find them.
 

Ianno87

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In that case I'd suggest you also make yourself aware of the Network Rail Operational Rules:
NR Operational Rules
Obviously you don't need to memorise them! But you would need to demonstrate that you know what they are, how they are applied, and where to find them.

For a TOC job, also familiarise yourself with their geographic operation and key routes/markets.

Plus awareness of their current contractual arrangements with DfT (e.g. ERMAs).
 

Watershed

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Thanks both. The Northern apprenticeship vacancy doesn't look like a secondment having checked again; it is for 2 years rather than 15 months and does clearly say the opportunity to APPLY for a vacant job in Northern upon completion of the apprenticeship. So it looks like I would have to leave my booking office job with potentially no job after 2 years.
I wouldn't rule it out without at least asking the recruiter. A role like that would potentially be a great way into planning.

This does list current or previous experience in the train planning environment, or a knowledge of the planning industry systems, as key skills/experience in the application part.
It depends what kind of a person they are looking for - a lateral movement within planning or someone 'off the street'. For obvious reasons, the latter does happen from time to time!

I suppose there's no harm in applying and using my years in the booking office and use of TRUST to show I have at least some knowledge of the train movements and timetables, even if no direct experience in the planning sector!
Knowledge of TRUST will certainly be a form of evidence that you have an understanding of how trains are time. Along the lines of what CW2 says, it would probably help to look into the Sectional Appendix (available on NR's website).
 

The Planner

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It is just transferable skills, though getting a TOC planner role tends to stand you in better stead than a NR one.
 

Ianno87

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It is just transferable skills, though getting a TOC planner role tends to stand you in better stead than a NR one.

Depends where you want to go. I'd say being NR planner is a good way of getting "in" to other NR stuff outside train planning.
 

Philip

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I wouldn't rule it out without at least asking the recruiter. A role like that would potentially be a great way into planning.


It depends what kind of a person they are looking for - a lateral movement within planning or someone 'off the street'. For obvious reasons, the latter does happen from time to time!


Knowledge of TRUST will certainly be a form of evidence that you have an understanding of how trains are time. Along the lines of what CW2 says, it would probably help to look into the Sectional Appendix (available on NR's website).

Thanks, I have limited knowledge of the sectional appendix from many years ago when initially training to be a guard.

What are the hours generally like in Planning? I have seen a job based on Birmingham, but live in Manchester. 9-5 wouldn't be too bad, but if there are early starts or late finishes then the distance wouldn't be suitable.
 

The Planner

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Depends where you want to go. I'd say being NR planner is a good way of getting "in" to other NR stuff outside train planning.
That is why they had to sort out the salary etc, as people were coming into the role and leaving to go elsewhere asap.

What are the hours generally like in Planning? I have seen a job based on Birmingham, but live in Manchester. 9-5 wouldn't be too bad, but if there are early starts or late finishes then the distance wouldn't be suitable.
Hope we don't have another pandemic that results in timetable carnage if you want 35 hours a week!
 

SussexLad

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Internally a TOC has advertised an apprenticeship for train planning, with the work being towards gaining skills and experience and a Level 4 Apprenticeship Standard in Project Management. I'm not considering applying as it will be a fair drop in wages and only lasts for 15 months, and beyond this would mean having to apply for a vacancy again; it is just to gain experience, skills and qualifications, rather than a staged entry into a planning job. However, I think this is a job I could do well with and perhaps something I would enjoy, but is this kind of apprenticeship experience and qualification required when applying for any planning jobs within the industry?
As an APM qualified project manager (same route) outside of the industry, I would say it depends what you're doing.

Train planning, not really needed. Project planning, you could do really well as an assistant PM or a planner because you'll understand the wider picture

Obviously transferable skills etc. Are great but train planning isn't the same as project management / planning. Two different things with some similarities

Apm = Association for Project Management. You'll usually gain one of there qualifications as well as an NVQ on a level 4 Project Management apprenticeship
 
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Philip

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As an APM qualified project manager (same route) outside of the industry, I would say it depends what you're doing.

Train planning, not really needed. Project planning, you could do really well as an assistant PM or a planner because you'll understand the wider picture

Obviously transferable skills etc. Are great but train planning isn't the same as project management / planning. Two different things with some similarities

Apm = Association for Project Management. You'll usually gain one of there qualifications as well as an NVQ on a level 4 Project Management apprenticeship

Thanks for this feedback. I think I remember reading in the apprenticeship specification last week about a level 4 in Project Management.
 

SussexLad

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Thanks for this feedback. I think I remember reading in the apprenticeship specification last week about a level 4 in Project Management.
No problem. Level 4 means its the equivalent of first year at Uni. You can progress to a full BSc Hons if you want to like I have (depends on employer and funding)
 
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