Railway Engineers

Discussion in 'Railway Jobs & Careers' started by Mike C, 18 Nov 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    My first post, so I guess I should start with - hi!

    I've been looking around and I see there are a number of forum members who are railway staff in many different roles in the industry which is good to see.

    I'm going to add myself to that list - I am Senior Mechanical Systems Engineer at Eurostar (so "hello" to any fellow EIL members if there are any...). The job is one reason I suppose that I joined this forum - to see if there is still new engineering life being injected into Britain's Railways.

    There are a lot of people wanting to be train drivers or work in customer facing roles, but I'm slightly concerned that UK railway engineering doesn't get a high enough profile in the media or at educational institutions. There is a lot of good experience and knowledge around at the moment but we need to safeguard this for the future. SNCF have a very good and strong system in place for new engineers and apprentices rising through the ranks, something that comes from being a large organisation. As there is no longer a central engineering department for UK railways like in the days of the DM&EE in Derby, this kind of thing is difficult to replicate in this country with our fragmented system. I suppose apprenticeships themselves are becoming rarer in every industry, not just railways.

    Anybody else in my line of work or who has thought along these lines?
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. Hydro

    Hydro Established Member

    Messages:
    2,202
    Joined:
    5 Mar 2007
    NR have probably the largest railway engineering apprenticeship going at the moment, taking on around 200 a year with dedicated training facilities. I'm a product of this scheme and can't fault it. It's infrastructure based, to produce engineering technicians in the fields of electrification, S&T, permanent way and other smaller roles. I currently work in Infrastructure Monitoring on the test trains.

    For rolling stock, that's in the hands of the TOC's really. I know a couple of TOC's take on a handful of apprentices a year.
     
  4. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    Yes, that is a good point about NR. I've heard many good things about their structured approach. I should have perhaps been more specific in highlighting rolling stock though because as you said, there is only a small localised intake with TOCs which I can't see changing much soon.
     
  5. Wyvern

    Wyvern Established Member

    Messages:
    1,574
    Joined:
    27 Oct 2009
    Bombardier in Derby are, or were, running an apprenticeship scheme. I understand that this has been put in jeopardy - perhaps just politics - but it is associated with the Rolls Royce scheme.
     
  6. es373

    es373 Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    19 May 2011
    Location:
    London
    Hey Mike :) ETM at HMP Temple Mills here! :P

    Hmm Rail Engineering is a sticky one if you want my opinion as its Engineering, but on a completely different level.
    I've done service engineering in food production plants, bowling centres, forklifts etc and the general principals are the same but when it comes to engineering, there are similarities with rail engineering but it does seem a long way from what it seems.

    For instance, you can do an NVQ in Rail Engineering but this gives you pretty much safe working practises on rolling stock and everything else. It's not a true engineering qualification in my opinion.
    Less and less TOCs are offering apprenticeships it seems bearing in mind that most TOCs offer an Engineering apprenticeship which is miles apart from rolling stock engineering... I wouldn't want to do a 4 year college course on something which is pretty much unrelated to what my work would be.

    Its an equilibrium I guess.... a outbalanced one too...


    But I will say that with E*, the available training is fantastic. Couldn't ask for anything better as its mostly not in house stuff... its stuff you actually get certifications for which you can take away with you to prove you can do the job to a high standard. We all know its good to have experience on a CV, but a qualification to go with it does push it that extra mile.
     
    Last edited: 19 Nov 2011
  7. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    Hello mate. Yeah, you've hit on my point - there are a few apprenticeships on the go for shop floor staff - but still not enough in my opinion. However, from my dealings with the IMechE, we have discussed how there is not much coming through at University level in engineering, let alone many aimed at railways. Looking at the current debate on University fees, that's probably not surprising. There are many ex-apprentices and shop floor members that I think would make the step up to full-on engineering with great success.

    I agree - the training and development I've had available at E* has been great over the years.

    I haven't been at TMI all week as I spent most of it at Le Landy, but that's my last Paris trip for a few weeks, so I'll be around for a while.
     
  8. S19

    S19 Member

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2010
    Do E* fund staff to do HNC or degree level qualifications?

    My current employer are putting me through a HNC at the moment and I will be starting a BEng in Mech Eng when I have finished the HNC. I'm only (relatively!) young, so they are keen to develop me for the future.
     
  9. Hydro

    Hydro Established Member

    Messages:
    2,202
    Joined:
    5 Mar 2007

    Same as me, I'm starting an HNC next year with an eye to a BEng in Railway Engineering afterwards.
     
  10. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    We encourage staff to develop their professional skills up to degree level or even a Masters. We highly value chartership as well. As for funding - yes, there are opportunities available for that, conditionally attached to ongoing employment.
     
  11. S19

    S19 Member

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2010
    It sounds very much like my non-railway employer. All good!
     
  12. es373

    es373 Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    19 May 2011
    Location:
    London
    sounds bloody good if you ask me! ;)
     
  13. Nym

    Nym Established Member

    Messages:
    8,033
    Joined:
    2 Mar 2007
    Location:
    Somewhere, not in London
    Well, when I've been speaking to employers, railway or non railway, there aren't many of them that don't WANT to make you chartered, but a lot of them aren't registered with the IET to do it. (Electrical and Electronic Engineering).

    So when I question them about doing a P/T MSc to cover the shortfall of my BEng, they all start umming and ahhing, asside from a certain leasing company and regional transport management organization, one who is registered with the IET.

    Ideally I want to be working on rolling stock or test trains, but asside from Porterbook, Network Rail and ATOC APEDS I havn't the faintest where else to look that actually has a future in the UK (Hence not mentioning Bombardier or Alstom).

    Background:
    Final Year BEng Mechatronic & Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Student Member IET, Affiliate Member IMechE. IET Accredited course, IMechE Recognized course (but not accredited)
     
  14. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    You could get that experience with pretty much any TOC too, but the problem would be getting in. It is harder than becoming a train driver. A TOC will employ a lot more drivers than electrical or mechanical engineers, and the ones we do have stay a while. The appeal of a TOC over a manufacturer is you are closer to the front line. You will have real life problems from operations that give it a more practical feel. Personal preference of course. Some may prefer to stay in an office all the time.

    We do all kinds of research and technical development: Fault finding, investigation of failures or incidents, running test trains, designing new components or systems for modification. For me, it's a great mixture of hands-on workshop or on-train work and good old-fashioned number-crunching engineering.
     
  15. es373

    es373 Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    19 May 2011
    Location:
    London

    You're bang on the money there Mike. TOC's generally go for people with electrical/mechanical experience as drivers because the whole fault finding process is a lot more efficient with someone that knows their way around electrical or mechanical systems.
    I think its quite sad that many people are all in a rush to become a driver, I wouldn't mind giving it a go... all be it on 373s or Freight (rocks dont moan when youre late running!) but I reckon I would get bored....
    I know quite a few drivers from various TOCs and it does seem to be one of them jobs which makes you brain dead because your'e not really thinking about what you're doing (SPAD's are proof! Well... some of them anyway) and you dont really get challenged on a day to day basis.
    I've always loved engineering for that very reason... nothing like having a major failure then cracking out the schematics/diagrams..belling circuits or druck'in pneumatic systems to finally find the fault and rectify it. It keeps you stimulated and keeps you on the ball.

    Much respect to drivers for the job they do, especially our guys though.

    Its just a shame that no one seems to be interested in trains on an engineering level, no one really wants to learn how 25kv runs through the transformer or how electricity is used through the transformer to the motor blocks then to the traction motors.

    Shame I tell you! Damn shame!
     
  16. S19

    S19 Member

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2010
    Makes the day go much faster :D

    I hate it when i've no 'fire fighting' to do :lol:
     
  17. es373

    es373 Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    19 May 2011
    Location:
    London
    S19,

    Hello mate. Yes it does make the day go faster but it also adapts your skills and furthers your learning ability thus making you more of a in-disposable member of staff than billy bollocks who does nothing.
    Engineers generally have good memories and it does help when you have an "Oo Err" moment while trying to fix something, only to then go "oh yeah! I remember that!"


    Thats the difference between fitters and engineers.... fitters cant read schematics and generally come from Quick Fit. HA!
     
  18. S19

    S19 Member

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2010
    Harsh ;)

    I can't wait until i've finished my HNC. I'll be eligible to apply for assorted Engineers roles where I work.

    At the moment i'm a lowly Project Planner :(
     
  19. es373

    es373 Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    19 May 2011
    Location:
    London
    :o! Just a tad ;)

    S19 - May only be a project planner but you have experience on both ends of the spectrum which wont weigh you down when it comes to the interviews
     
  20. S19

    S19 Member

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2010
    I see your point though in some circumstances!
     
  21. es373

    es373 Member

    Messages:
    468
    Joined:
    19 May 2011
    Location:
    London
    He says as the fitter turns up with a hammer and watering can!
     
  22. Hydro

    Hydro Established Member

    Messages:
    2,202
    Joined:
    5 Mar 2007
    The good thing about Engineering is the transferable skills you learn. Civil/Mech/Electrical/Electronic engineering doesn't change whether you're T&RS/PW/S&T/Electrification or whatever. I find that Engineering is a constant learning curve, no matter how experienced you are or how many qualifications you have. There's always something new cropping up, new symptoms in faults, new problems that need solving, the need for new equipment, the "Hmm, I've not seen that before" moment" (and there's ALWAYS an exception to the rule; especially on the railway!). I love seeing a problem in front of me and sitting down to work out why it's a problem, and how it can be fixed.
     
  23. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    Hydro, that is true but only so far. While the fundamental skills are transferrable and you can probably tackle most problems in different types of job, every role has specific knowledge and experience that separates the great from the good. An OLE engineer may apply for a rolling stock job but if they are up against 3 other engineers of a comparable level who have rolling stock experience, it will be difficult to rise above the bar in the selection process.

    It is possible and does happen of course, but if I interview candidates and they don't have what I call "relevant experience", I'll make them dig a little deeper into their CV and perhaps give them a harder time compared to someone who can display directly transferrable knowledge. The other fact is that often they wouldn't get to the interview in the first place. In the past if I have had 10 or moe CV's that look interesting and good, I would simply discard the others. I'm aware that in that discard pile there may well be brilliant engineers with the drive and potential to be as good as those in the accept pile but time is a factor. Specifically with Eurostar too, we often desire high speed rail experience as a very good bonus from any applicant.
     
  24. Nym

    Nym Established Member

    Messages:
    8,033
    Joined:
    2 Mar 2007
    Location:
    Somewhere, not in London
    MikeC, so what chance is what is effectively a green engineer out of university that needs 5 years on the job training to become chartered with only automotive and military experience behind him got in the way of a chance?
     
  25. Hydro

    Hydro Established Member

    Messages:
    2,202
    Joined:
    5 Mar 2007

    It sounds as if "relevant experience" is starting to get a bit thin on the ground in your field from your earlier posts? Or is there an actual unwillingness to train up those who have experience but lack the formal qualifications to rise up the ranks?
     
  26. Mike C

    Mike C Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2011
    I think that is the essence of my thoughts, yes. There is always pressure to take on experienced staff in any industry, however when the intake in the first place is thin on the ground, then you have - or in the near future, will have a problem. I am concerned about this.

    Nym - it is always difficult to comment on an individual case without an interview and background study, but I would have thought you have a good start there. I had a mixture of military engineering, automotive and rail experience before I started out. It might be worth sending an explorative letter to a prospective employee that you are interested in and ask the question directly. They should reply with helpful advice. With luck, they will also remember your name when the time comes for an application and this will help your cause too.
     
  27. Nym

    Nym Established Member

    Messages:
    8,033
    Joined:
    2 Mar 2007
    Location:
    Somewhere, not in London
    Well, the ATOC APEDS scheme is ment to do that, but it's a pain writing out all these application forms, am so bad at writing about myself.
     
  28. Gmac

    Gmac Member

    Messages:
    23
    Joined:
    13 Jan 2011
    Found that a lot of ex forces are now working on rolling stock, Converting their engineering skills to the railway
     
  29. Yew

    Yew Established Member

    Messages:
    3,367
    Joined:
    12 Mar 2011
    Location:
    Nottingham
    If It helps, I have a scholarship with Siemens. (albeit in their Energy sector, working with Industrial gas turbines) However with the big centre Siemens are setting up, you never know, I could end up over there, designing rolling stock :)
     
  30. S19

    S19 Member

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    5 Apr 2010
    A lad I know used to work for Siemens maintaining gas turbines. He travelled all over the world doing it. Quite a life it seemed!
     
  31. Nym

    Nym Established Member

    Messages:
    8,033
    Joined:
    2 Mar 2007
    Location:
    Somewhere, not in London
    The devisions in Seimens would make that quite hard... Their power systems business is a lot bigger in the UK than their Mobility business.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page