Thursday, March 01, 2007

Modular Railway Induction

When I had my interview for this role, I made it clear that I had no knowledge of the railway industry beyond that acquired as a consumer. This, I was assured, was not going to be a problem. Aside from speaking to relevant people, I requested, and was registered onto, an industry familiarisation course at the end of November (2006). This turned out to be a two-day course aimed at giving participants an introduction to the different aspects of the rail industry and how they work (and the terms used to describe them). The course consisted of the following sections:
  1. The Structure and Operations of the British Rail industry
  2. Railway Documentation
  3. Permanent Way
  4. Structures & Clearances
  5. Signalling & Telecommunications
  6. Overhead Line Equipment & Third Rail Electrification
  7. On-Track Plant
  8. Planning Engineering Work and Line Blockages
  9. Railway Safety Legislation
In addition, we were given a glossary of railway terminology. I was sorry that it didn’t include a section on Rolling Stock (along with its associated topics such as Vehicle/Track Interaction, etc.) as this would have rounded out the course to provide a complete introduction. Having said that, I think it would have to have been a three-day course if it were to include Rolling Stock because, as it was, we ended up running short of time and having to skip the On-Track Plant section.

The course consisted of a great deal of lecturing at the beginning and to be honest, I don’t really know what other way there is for covering those first two topics. I found the next four sections really interesting (sections 3 to 6), but then I have always been interested in how things work. Our instructor had set up at the front of the room a pretty large and comprehensive working model and we used this to illustrate the rest of the sections.

On the whole, it was a really good course and it was certainly very useful. I understand a lot more about the company’s role in the industry and how it relates to the rest of the industry organisations. I also understand the content of our research a great deal more and know what most of the terms and acronyms that are used mean (and for those that I don’t know, the glossary is proving pretty useful.)

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