RAILTRACK'S EFFORTS to tackle skill shortages moved forward this week after it completed the conversion of nine non-rail engineers into track specialists.
The nine newly qualified track engineers graduated following an eight month intensive training course. Another 18 engineers are expected to follow within two months.
All are experienced engineers from varying backgrounds, including construction and mining.
They have been recruited and retrained by Railtrack to head off shortages of track engineers which threaten to halt network improvements.
The nine will now go out to Railtrack regional offices for six months' on the job training before spending time with a rail contractor and returning to Railtrack.
The track operator is running more courses later in the year as well as a signal engineering conversion course.
In another move to address the problem this week the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) established a board which will create a rail academy to oversee rail industry training at all academic levels. The academy was first proposed in March when the SRA published its strategic plan.