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Rail careers: Transition mission

Costain group director of rail, Gren Edwards, says the company is seeing an increasing amount of multi-disciplinary rail work. Report by Ben Cronin.

Every time you turn the page in a newspaper, there’s an article on Crossrail, London Underground, or High speed 2 at the moment,” says Costain group director of rail Gren Edwards.

“I think the message is getting through that the UK’s railway infrastructure is in transition, it’s improving year on year and the need for talent will go on indefinitely.”

Traditional projects like Crossrail, and the London Bridge station upgrade are driving demand for new recruits at the firm. But Edwards says the contractor is also seeing an increasing amount of multi-disciplinary railway project work coming forward. These include Crossrail Anglia, the Network Rail Control Period 5 spending programme and the Kent multi-functional framework. The latter includes elements of track works, electrification and signalling works in addition to civil engineering works.


Rail: A wide range of spending programmes is increasing demand for civil engineers

“It is increasing our demand for people with specific railway disciplines,” says Edwards. “These are project managers and project directors used to doing multi-disciplinary rail projects and track renewals people, electrification personnel, managers and linesmen and indeed signalling and communications people.”

Costain and its associated rail companies such as Alstom Babcock Costain (ABC) Electrification are achieving a balance between recruiting people with existing skills sets within the industry and engaging new talent and re-skilling through training. This can either be through apprenticeships, or even transitioning people who have worked in other parts of the business. The company has a transition programme to aid the process.

“If you look at the people that work in Costain’s rail team, over 80% have moved into rail from other sectors where we operate,” says Edwards.

“It proves that our transition programme is working and that people who wouldn’t normally have worked in the railway sector can move into the business fairly readily. “And if they find after a few years in the rail industry they want to transition back into nuclear, highways or water, we encourage that too.”

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