Forget the find and fix maintenance regime, it’s all about predicting and preventing.
About Rail Infrastructure
The rail infrastructure is a complex set of systems including track, signalling and telecoms that have to work together to ensure the trains operate safely and efficiently. Every system has to be designed, installed, commissioned and maintained and a whole host of engineers and technicians are required to apply their engineering skills and knowledge to deliver a fit for purpose rail system.
Train drivers only know where to go, how fast, and whether a station is safe to approach or not because of the signalling system. It’s a vast network of signs, lights and more, telling drivers what to do and when. If it goes wrong, the results could mean delays, diversions and even disasters if the problem isn’t sorted quickly. Add to that the jobs involved in laying the track, keeping communication between stations and trains up and running, and even using the vehicles necessary to get from one point to another on a track to fix it, and you’ve got a lot of opportunities.
Rail infrastructure engineering covers three pathways dealing with track, signalling and telecoms. Whichever track you choose you are likely to work as a technician or junior technical engineer.
Technicians play a key role in inspecting, fault finding, maintaining and renewing the assets within their discipline. The junior technical engineer is critical in the measurement, analysis and planning of work on the various assets. As an apprentice, you might work in an office as well as on site. You’ll need to enjoy solving problems, be willing to work shifts and be prepared to work outdoors in all weathers.
As a railway infrastructure apprentice your main goals will be:
- Customer experience
- Safer travel
- Modernize infrastructure
- Financially self-sustainable
Telecoms – A typical day could include anything from installing telephone lines in an office environment to tracing telecoms cables that lead to the rectification of a fault in a signal box, installing a new card on a transmission system, adding new lines on a telephone or terminating telecoms cables on main distribution frames in the telephone exchange.
Signalling – As an apprentice you will be responsible for maintaining the equipment that moves the trains safely in a highly complex and fast moving environment. No two days are the same, you could be working on a major signalling failure to get the trains running again and people home or supporting a large engineering project with the refurbishment and renewal of points operating equipment.
On the track – As a track apprentice you will be responsible for managing the track network and keeping the railway safe and efficient. Working in a team you will ensure that the track system is operating to its optimum; this includes rails, sleepers and ballast that support the trains together with their associated drainage and ancillary structures. Remember!!! It’s an all-weather, around-the-clock job, so you could be out day, night and at the weekends.
Railways in Wales
Most of the rail services in Wales are now operated by Arriva Trains, but, in South Wales, First Great Western and Cross Country also make incursions. In the north, some services are operated by Virgin and First North Western. The size and scope of preserved railways in Wales is extremely varied, and ranges from short lengths of track in urban environments to railways hidden in the lush valleys of west Wales, or clinging precariously to some of the most spectacular mountainside in the UK. Tourist from a far and near choosing Wales as a top destination to escape the monotonous routine of their daily lives. A popular attraction being the Ffestiniog Railway, (Snowdonia) along a narrow gauge line, this is one of Britain’s most scenic journeys passing through mountains and forests.
Get on track today and apply for railway infrastructure Apprenticeships at Careermap.