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Rail: Vacancies to plug

A combination of major line upgrades and work on the surface sections of Crossrail is behind a big recruitment drive at Network Rail.

Network Rail is stepping up a recruitment drive aimed at attracting experienced engineers for projects on the Great Western Main Line (GWML). From August, vacancies will be advertised for around 100 senior project engineers and project managers to work on electrification of the line.

This is not the sole focus of Network Rail’s recruitment efforts, nor will it be the last push for new recruits. But it will be its biggest single campaign for the next three to four months, says the organisation’s resourcing attraction manager Alasdair Waddell.

The cause of the demand is two-fold, as electrification of the GWML is coinciding with upgrades and reconfigurations of Network Rail infrastructure for the surface running sections of Crossrail. The organisation is upgrading around 70km of track for Crossrail, including a north east section to Shenfield in Essex and the relatively short south east surface line to Abbey Wood.

“We need project engineers and a lot of other specific project-type roles, including procurement and commercial managers with civil engineering and rail backgrounds”

Alasdair Waddell, Network Rail

West of Paddington, Crossrail services will extend to Heathrow and Reading and stop at 15 other stations. New stations will be built at Acton, Southall, West Ealing and Hayes & Harlington. A major renovation is planned for Ealing Broadway, and all of the remaining 10 stations will see varying levels of upgrade.

“We need project engineers and a lot of other specific project-type roles, including procurement and commercial managers with civil engineering and rail backgrounds,” says Waddell. “We have just finished advertising to fill 80 to 90 positions for specific Crossrail surface work projects. Now we need a similar number for electrification as far as Bristol.

“This will be an ongoing story, as work on the modernisation of the western route is rolled out. Currently we are recruiting for work on upgrading infrastructure as far as Bristol. This will then extend out into Wales, and we will need operations staff for when the upgrades are done,” he adds.

Oxford line

Network Rail is planning to have electric power up and running on the GWML between London and Bristol, including the Oxford line, by 2016, and as far as Cardiff by 2017.

There will be a lot of civil engineering associated with the installation of the overhead line equipment (OLE), including alterations and upgrades to bridges and tunnels to accommodate the OLE throughout the route.

The Great Western to Wales electrification will be the first part of a planned £2bn national electrification programme, and will be delivered by the Alstom, Babcock and Costain joint venture ABC Electrification - one of four contractors appointed to the programme.

ABC is also recruiting 150 staff for a variety of roles including project and design managers and CDM coordinators.

Other schemes on the programme include the Midland Mainline, the Liverpool to Manchester and Preston Northern Hub and the South Wales Valley Lines.

Network Rail received 900 applications for its Crossrail positions and is currently shortlisting for interviews, but is understood to be struggling to recruit sufficient numbers of experienced staff for electrification roles.

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