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Atlantic crossing

Project manager Steve Cox has spent time in the USA with Balfour Beatty Rail Projects.

Steve Cox, 34, joined Balfour Beatty Rail Projects in 1994 with no experience of the rail industry. He has since risen to the position of project manager following 5 years in America where he had progressed to engineering manager responsible for overhead line electrification engineering on a major project for the company.

He is ambitious and BBRP has given him enough diversity of employment and regular promotion to stop him having even a slight yearning to move on.' The training I have been given has allowed me to feel as though I have really developed as an engineer. Balfour Beatty has given me the opportunity to work abroad, and experiencing how other countries solve engineering problems has really helped me, ' he says.

Cox joined the company after a spell in the Merchant Navy as an engineering officer, completing a degree in mechanical engineering and gaining engineering experience in the chemical and steel industries. He started with Balfour Beatty as a catenary engineer and feels his mechanical background has served him well. 'Railway overhead electrical equipment is multi disciplinary, ' he says, 'with elements of civil, structural and mechanical engineering mixed in. Because it crosses disciplines the fairly rounded engineering background I have has stood me in good stead.'

His first experience of BBRP was a two week intensive introduction course to catenary and rail engineering. He was assigned to a project and made steady progress under the guidance of an experienced engineer who acted as a mentor and helped push him along what Cox describes as an 'expedited learning curve.'

He was then transferred to the design team working on Hong Kong's Airport railway link, responsible for producing railway electrification layout designs.

After two years he was offered the opportunity to move to Atlanta in America, where Balfour Beatty was leading the electrification contract for the Boston to Newhaven high speed rail line.

With little local experienced overhead line capacity within the US Balfour Beatty recruited and trained engineers from other local industries. This reinforced Cox's belief that with good training most competent engineers can become effective OHL engineers.

'The job in America was truly multi-disciplinary, and though some of the civils, electrical, structural and mechanical work was done by subcontractors, as project leader I had to be in a position to fully understands the lot, ' he says.

Since returning to England last year Cox has worked on developing a high speed crossover system for the WatfordBletchley project that has been accepted by Railtrack, and is currently project manager on the electrification of additional rail platforms for the UK side of the Channel Tunnel.

He wants to continue managing multi-disciplinary projects. 'If you look now at current railway projects, they are never single discipline and somebody has to co-ordinate that, whether it be here or abroad. At Balfour Beatty Rail Projects the possibilities exist.'

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