WA launches rail-focused infrastructure training program

The Western Australian government has launched a four-week intensive training course that will give students hands-on experience on major rail projects in the state.

Students will get a first-hand insight into Metronet projects including the Bellevue Railcar facility, the Yanchep Rail Extension, the Thornlie-Cockburn link, and the Denny Avenue Level Crossing Removal. Road projects are also part of the course.

The program will be delivered at TAFE campuses across Perth and is designed to increase the pool of workers in the infrastructure sector. Young people and women are being encouraged to apply.

Designed to create a pathway for those who may have lost their jobs during COVID-19, the course is free for those on JobSeeker/JobKeeper payments, those who are concession-eligible or under 25.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Infrastructure Ready program is designed to address approaching skills shortages in the infrastructure sector.

“We are delivering more than $6.5 billion worth of road and rail projects across all corners of the State – ensuring we have the workforce to deliver this pipeline of work is a key priority,” she said.

“This new training will deliver job-ready workers to meet the immediate needs of Western Australia’s multi-billion-dollar civil construction industry.”

During the program, students will be taught measurement and calculation skills for the construction sector and safe work practices. Instruction on how to operate small plant and equipment also forms part of the course.

Through partnerships with industry, those who complete the program will be offered the opportunity to gain entry-level prospects. Civil construction industry contractors will be given incentives to employ and retain program participants.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said that the program will set up participants for success.

“Participants will gain firsthand experience on this unique course that will put them in good stead for work on our major infrastructure projects and for future employment opportunities.”

generation

Preparing for the growth ahead: Finding a new generation of rail workers

CEO of the ARA Caroline Wilkie writes that a generation of young people looking for opportunities have the talents to fill rail’s skills gap.

In a year that has been more about preserving jobs than creating them, the concept of skills shortages can be a difficult one to reconcile.

However, the impact of this year’s events has not changed the fact that a very real and significant skills gap looms in the rail industry.

The Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) 2018 skills capability study found the rail industry was staring down the barrel of a 24 per cent skills gap on current employment levels by 2024.

The gap existed across the spectrum, from technicians, trades and operators to managers and rail professionals.

Clearly, this is an area where action is needed if we are to make the most of the significant investment pipeline of the coming decades.

The National Rail Action Plan skills and labour working group, which I co-chair, is currently looking at how the industry can address this issue.

The group is bringing together key people from across the industry to inform this work and I look forward to reporting on our progress as time goes on.

In the meantime, the ARA is continuing to advance its skills agenda.

As more rail projects come online, there will obviously be a need for the development of skill sets that are specific to the rail industry.

We will need a stronger focus on skills and education to achieve this. The ARA is advocating for the development of a dedicated skills academy that offers targeted solutions to meet the industry’s future needs.

This will not only ensure the focus is firmly on the technical requirements of the industry but will also ensure a strong culture of safety and excellence can be embedded in training programs before people even enter the rail workforce.

And the time to create this capability is now. Because a generation of young people in particular are looking for new and rewarding career opportunities more than ever.

Even before the impact of COVID-19, conditions were not good for those just starting their careers.

In July, the Productivity Commission released a working paper that found the weak labour market that had emerged after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis had been bad news for young people for a generation.

In the decade that followed, there were full time jobs became harder to come by as part time employment began to rise.

Young people started on lower wages and found it harder to find their chosen roles, despite having a good education behind them.

For those who took a job that was less than what they hoped for just to get their start, their career trajectory did not always recover, and better jobs did not always come along.

Those challenges have only been compounded this year, with another generation of young people hit harder than most by job losses and employment insecurity in the wake of the pandemic.

In this toughest of climates, there will be exceptional young people looking for career options that will last a lifetime, take them all over the world if they choose, and allow them to work in diverse roles on exciting projects.

What better time than now for the rail industry to step forward?

As an industry, a key part of attracting the best young people to work in rail over the coming years will be highlighting the benefits we have to offer – both to individuals and the broader community.

The ARA’s Young Leaders Advisory Board has identified sustainability as one of its focus areas to do just that.

Speaking to the industry’s young leaders, we have heard time and again how the sustainability credentials of the industry, and the essential community service it provides, has been a driving force in determining their future in rail.

They tell us that seeing the industry’s role in helping people and businesses in their daily life is part of what makes them enjoy working in rail so much.

They also see the value of sustainable, long term infrastructure development in rail that can take more congestion off our roads and better connect our cities and towns than ever before.

The fact that the projects they work on are exciting, dynamic, innovative and ever- changing is icing on the cake.

It is these benefits that has led to many of our young leaders staking their claim for a long-term career in rail.

And it is these benefits, together with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to succeed in the industry, that will help us attract the next cohort of rail workers.

So, while we deal with the challenges 2020 has given us, we must also prepare for the growth that will follow in the years ahead.

Having the right people with the right skills in place will be key to our success.

RISSB releases its 2020/2021 work plan

RISSB’s projects in the next year expand the organisation’s role.

The Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) has released its 2020/2021 industry-driven work plan, which includes close to 30 publications and 16 major projects that will be delivered over a two-year horizon.

This work plan is a result of RISSB’s overhauled project planning process and heralds a new era for RISSB. In addition to delivering standards, guidelines, codes of practice and rules, RISSB now has a new major projects portfolio set up to address industry- wide issues focusing on business imperatives. This holistic approach demonstrates that RISSB is future-focused and is equipped to address industry’s current and future challenges, now.

Input from stakeholders directly informs the development of our priorities and the vital publications that we make available to industry. The work plan was developed after significant consultation with CEOs, other senior industry executives, and RISSB’s standing committees helped us determine the priorities that will create a safer and more productive industry.

Throughout the year, RISSB will be managing the development of a total of 29 publications comprising reviews, resubmissions from the previous year’s priority planning process (PPP), AS 1085 series of documents still transitioning from Standards Australia, and projects put forward and endorsed by Standing Committees.

A list of our Australian Code of Practice (ACOP) projects is available in the table below.

Type Title
Guideline Achieving compliance at railway station platforms with DSAPT
Under consideration Firmware, software and configuration management for operational rail assets
Standard LED Locomotive Headlights, LED Ditchlights
Standard Safety Critical Comms
Standard Light Rail Interfaces with Roads (Signals and Signage)
Guideline Australian Rail Industry Management System Framework
Guideline Fatigue Risk Management
Form SPAD Investigations Proforma
AS 7460 Operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Drones) on the Railway Network
AS 7519 Bogie Structures
AS 7520 Body Structural Requirements
AS 7522 Access & Egress
AS 7533 Driving Cabs
AS 7640 Rail Management
AS 7651 Axle Counters
AS  7658 Level Crossing
AS 7664 Railway Signalling Cable Routes, Cable Pits & Foundations
AS 7703 Signalling Power Supplies
Code of Practice Wheel Defect Manual
AS 7474 System Safety Assurance for the Rail Industry
Guideline Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM) Guideline for the Australian Rail Industry
AS 7450 Interoperability
AS 7636 Structures
AS 7638 Earthworks
AS 7639 Track Structure & Support Systems
AS 7642 Turnouts and Special Trackworks
AS 7666 TPC Interoperability
Guideline Wheel Rail Profile Development
AS 1085.17 Railway track materials – steel sleepers

 

Taking into consideration the impact of COVID-19 on the rail industry, improved workflows, revised Development Group membership requirements, and streamlined internal processes will ensure ongoing Development Group commitments are optimised during what continues to be a challenging time for all.

Our new Major Projects portfolio will enable RISSB to address key challenges facing the industry, focus on activities that directly address the needs of its stakeholders, and deliver step change improvements for the benefit of the Australian rail industry through a number of workstreams: Track Worker Safety, National Rules, National Vehicle Register, Train Control Interoperability, Noise, Technology Benefit Realisation and the National Rail Action Plan.

The table below shows all 16 major projects.

Type Title
Report Exploration of Technological Solutions (RISSB / ONRSR joint project)
Action Plan Action Plan from Technology Study
Guideline Good Practice for Planning Works in the Rail Corridor
Standard Digital Engineering
Guideline Achieving a Positive Safety Culture in the Rail Corridor
 Training Explore the Viability of Nationally Recognised Protection Officer Training
Rule National Communications Rule
Plan Produce a Pipeline of Harmonized and Rationalized National Rules
Glossary Glossary of Terms
Standard Railway Rulebooks
Register National Vehicle Register
Report Interoperability Technology Solutions and Funding Models
Report The Case (SFAIRP) for (taking away/reducing etc) Horns in Built Up Areas
Code of Practice Industry Code of Practice on Horns
Report Current Good Practice in Wheel Squeal
Website Wed-based Technology Sharing Platform
Various National Rail Action Plan

Including:

  • Energy Storage
  • Heating, Ventilation and Airconditioning (HVAC)
  • Noise (especially in tunnels although its scope is likely to be expanded)

Capping off what has already been a successful year for RISSB, in 2019/2020 RISSB delivered an impressive 21 standards, codes of practice, and guidelines bringing the total number of publications RISSB has in its catalogue to more than 220. In addition to these projects, RISSB also published The National Rules Framework, and the seminal study into Rail’s Current Innovations and Trends and the Assessment of Interoperability Issues from the Proposed Introduction of New Train Control Systems; these are noteworthy achievements in themselves.

If you would like to see a list of publications delivered by RISSB in 2019/2020 and our 2020 /2021 work plan, visit rissb.com.au/work-program/.

Government funding supports up to 100 KiwiRail apprentices

KiwiRail will employ 100 new apprentices, thanks to government funding from the Regional Apprenticeship Initiative.

The New Zealand infrastructure manager and rail operator will receive $4 million to support the employment of up to 100 apprentices who will have a pathway into employment in the rail industry.

Apprenticeships will involve areas such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electricity supply, rail operations, building/structures, and track infrastructure. Job roles will include signals and electrical specialists, train drivers, and track staff.

To facilite the training component, KiwiRail will also establish four new apprenticeship qualifications, taking the total number of qualifications to six.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said the apprenticeships would not only ensure the trainees’ future, but the longevity of the company.

“The new qualifications will make rail more than just a job – they will make it a rewarding career – and help ensure KiwiRail has the new blood and skills it needs for a strong future,” he said.

With the funding support from the government, which KiwiRail will match with in-kind and cash contributions, will expand the depth of the rail industry workforce.

“This government support for apprenticeships will help us attract more young people into rail, including through a school gateway programme, and it will allow us to create a clear, sustainable pathway for them to learn skills and progress in the businesses,” said Miller.

Apprentices will be employed in the regions, however applications are open to anyone. Some apprenticeships will be offered to existing staff for upskilling, but most will be delivered to new staff.

“There is a wealth of experience and knowledge among KiwiRail’s staff and I want to see that passed down to the next generation,” said Miller.

“KiwiRail is committed to delivering an efficient and effective rail system for New Zealand – that can help take trucks off our roads and reduce our carbon emissions – but that can’t be done without people.”

Apprentices who are employed by KiwiRail will have a workforce development adviser assigned to them to provide pastoral care and ongoing support to enable the apprenticeship to be successfully maintained.

Preparing for the growth ahead

CEO of the ARA Caroline Wilkie writes that a cohort of young people looking for opportunities have the talents to fill rail’s skills gap.

In a year that has been more about preserving jobs than creating them, the concept of skills shortages can be a difficult one to reconcile.

However, the impact of this year’s events has not changed the fact that a very real and significant skills gap looms in the rail industry.

The Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) 2018 skills capability study found the rail industry was staring down the barrel of a 24 per cent skills gap on current employment levels by 2024.

The gap existed across the spectrum, from technicians, trades and operators to managers and rail professionals.

Clearly, this is an area where action is needed if we are to make the most of the significant investment pipeline of the coming decades.

The National Rail Action Plan skills and labour working group, which I co-chair, is currently looking at how the industry can address this issue.

The group is bringing together key people from across the industry to inform this
work and I look forward to reporting on our progress as time goes on.

In the meantime, the ARA is continuing to advance its skills agenda.

As more rail projects come online, there will obviously be a need for the development of skill sets that are specific to the rail industry.

We will need a stronger focus on skills and education to achieve this.

The ARA is advocating for the development of a dedicated skills academy that offers targeted solutions to meet the industry’s future needs.

This will not only ensure the focus is firmly on the technical requirements of the industry but will also ensure a strong culture of safety and excellence can be embedded in training programs before people even enter the rail workforce.

And the time to create this capability is now. Because young people in particular are looking for new and rewarding career opportunities more than ever.

Even before the impact of COVID-19, conditions were not good for those just starting their careers.

In July, the Productivity Commission released a working paper that found the weak labour market that had emerged after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis had been bad news for young people.

In the decade that followed, there were full time jobs became harder to come by as part time employment began to rise.

Young people started on lower wages and found it harder to find their chosen roles, despite having a good education behind them.

For those who took a job that was less than what they hoped for just to get their start, their career trajectory did not always recover, and better jobs did not always come along.

Those challenges have only been compounded this year, with young people hit harder than most by job losses and employment insecurity in the wake
of the pandemic.

In this toughest of climates, there will be exceptional young people looking for career options that will last a lifetime, take them all over the world if they choose, and allow them to work in diverse roles on exciting projects.

What better time than now for the rail industry to step forward?

As an industry, a key part of attracting the best young people to work in
rail over the coming years will be highlighting the benefits we have to offer – both to individuals and the broader community.

The ARA’s Young Leaders Advisory Board has identified sustainability as one of its focus areas to do just that.

Speaking to the industry’s young leaders, we have heard time and again how the sustainability credentials of the industry, and the essential community service it provides, has been a driving force in determining their future in rail.

They tell us that seeing the industry’s role in helping people and businesses in their daily life is part of what makes them enjoy working in rail so much.

They also see the value of sustainable, long term infrastructure development in rail that can take more congestion off our roads and better connect our cities and towns than ever before.

The fact that the projects they work on are exciting, dynamic, innovative and ever- changing is icing on the cake.

It is these benefits that has led to many of our young leaders staking their claim for a long-term career in rail.

And it is these benefits, together with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to succeed in the industry, that will help us attract the next cohort of rail workers.

So, while we deal with the challenges 2020 has given us, we must also prepare for the growth that will follow in the years ahead.

Having the right people with the right skills in place will be key to our success.

New Learning Management System for RISSB

RISSB is stepping up its focus on training and will deliver courses online and face-to-face.

RISSB is launching a new learning management system (LMS) in the second half of 2020. The decision to invest in an LMS is part of a broader plan to automate RISSB processes and deliver more of its services virtually.

The online courses that will become available in late 2020 and early 2021 on the new LMS will be easy to enrol for, access, and complete. Among other things, the new system will enable course participants to learn at their own pace either in the workplace or from the comfort of their own home 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and access the LMS on multiple electronic devices. Being user friendly, the LMS will also make it easier for people to register to attend a RISSB course and pay for their course online by credit card in one single transaction.

In addition to offering online courses, the LMS will eventually contain a host of online resources that will assist with take-up of RISSB publications.

RISSB intends to apply for accreditation as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) within the next year. As an RTO, RISSB will be able to offer accredited courses, reinforcing the value of RISSB’s training program to the broader rail industry.

RISSB has recently purchased a student management system in preparation for becoming an RTO. The benefits of the Student Management System are:

  • Streamlined enrolment process
  • Automated processing of enrolments
  • Instant invoicing and receipting
  • Linked with the LMS.

Since the implementation of government restrictions and social distancing, RISSB has opted to conduct face-to-face training only in those situations where the requirements of both the Commonwealth and the host state can be met. But once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, RISSB’s flagship Rail Safety Investigation, Derailment Investigation and Analysis, and Safety Critical Communications courses will continue to be delivered face-to-face in learning facilities located across Australia.

To register your interest to attend a course, or to enquire about training delivery for 10 or more people in your workplace, please send an email to jreynolds@rissb.com.au

DAS

“This is for our grandchildren”: Why KiwiRail’s C-DAS is about more than saving fuel

KiwiRail tells Rail Express how its adoption of driver advisory systems (DAS) from TTG Transportation Technology is delivering benefits now and over the long term.

When representatives from TTG Transportation Technology first contacted KiwiRail with their new system, the New Zealand rail operator couldn’t believe what they were hearing.

The Sydney-based manufacturer was introducing their driver advisory system (DAS), Energymiser to KiwiRail and were suggesting that the state-owned enterprise could save 10 per cent of their fuel bill. According to Soren Low, technology and customer innovation leader at KiwiRail, it would take a change of management for the offer to be taken up.

“We struggled at first to get any interest in installing Energymiser, but a couple of years later there was renewed interest and the group general manager at the time said ‘Let’s give it a crack and do a trial and see what happens, if nothing comes out of it that’s great, at least we can say we tried.’”

KiwiRail chose to test the system on a freight line that took wood pulp from the mill at Karioi in the middle of the North Island to the Port of Wellington.

“We did a trial over three or four months and what became really clear is that the numbers that came out of this trial were too good to be true,” said Low.

The initial figures promised by TTG were being delivered and led to the DAS modules being rolled out across the entire network.

“We used the trial to write a business case to justify the investment to roll out Energymiser across the business,” said Low.

A few years later, the onboard systems were in the cabs of KiwiRail’s fleet of 180 locomotives and 350 train drivers were trained how to use the system. Now, across KiwiRail’s 4,500km network the DAS technology delivered by TTG indicate to drivers when to increase speed, when to brake, and when to coast to enable the most efficient runs possible.

The DAS system enables KiwiRail to make the most of a 150-year-old narrow gauge network with many tight corners and steep inclines. Whether hauling bulk freight, logs for export, and dairy during the milking season, Energymiser is enabling KiwiRail to cut fuel costs and significantly reduce emissions.

CHANGE THE WAY YOU DRIVE
While the figures from the trial convinced KiwiRail’s management of the benefits of the DAS technology, there was another group who needed to come on board.

“When we first started talking about DAS to the driver union representatives, there wasn’t much support for it,” said Low. “There was a straight-out view that no technology can tell a driver how to drive a train better than they can. In time, the Rail & Maritime Transport Union representatives came on board, and really helped us sell it to our people. Being able to pull together a small team of committed drivers who believed in what we were doing really helped us test, tweak and deliver the system.”

Until the incorporation of Energymiser, KiwiRail drivers had been trained to travel at the maximum track speed. Now, the DAS onboard screen was telling drivers that they could travel below the track speed and coast on downhill sections and they would arrive at their destination at the scheduled time.

To communicate this change in practice, KiwiRail enlisted the help of a senior driver, Robin Simmons. Having someone with Simmons’s respect within the organisation helped to win over resistant drivers.

“Simmons really quickly bought into this,” said Low. “He really quickly said, ‘You know what, this is actually a really good thing.’ To this day, he is our DAS champion. He has been pretty much working full time on DAS. The training program that we built was very heavily influenced by Simmons and in the early days he did most of the training himself. The fact that he’s a locomotive engineer and train driver was really good in terms of his credibility.”

Another important factor said Low is to ensure that the information that is displayed in cab is not in conflict with conditions on the track. For example, during summer some parts of the KiwiRail network have speed restrictions due to heat. This function was not inbuilt into the Energymiser system initially, so KiwiRail and TTG updated the software.

“The DAS was saying you should be doing 70 km/h whereas the driver knew they should be doing 40 because they were in a heat restriction area and we try and avoid having those mixed messages in the cab,” said Low.

KiwiRail found drivers were in three camps; those that embraced the technology, those who used the DAS because they had to, and those who would prefer not to use the technology. Convincing the second and third camps and encouraging the first to become advocates for the system would take a different approach.

“In our training, we spend a day in the classroom with our drivers and most of it is really hearts and minds stuff. It’s about the bigger sustainability picture, it’s about why this is important, it’s about how organisations like KiwiRail need to cut costs, how we need to invest our money wisely and then a little bit of the training is actually the technical bit of how you use the tool,” said Low.

Acknowledging and incorporating these factors has led to the success of the system.

“The reality is if you can’t get the drivers on board then you are dead in the water.”

KiwiRail tested the system with driver Robin Simmons, who became an advocate for the technology.

ENCOURAGING CLEAN AND EFFICIENT OPERATIONS
Seven years on from the first contract signed between TTG and KiwiRail the system has enabled a 10 per cent reduction in fuel costs. However, even more important than the savings are the benefits that the system has brought to KiwiRail.

KiwiRail has three carbon reduction targets and by the end of June 2020 is aiming to reduce energy consumption by 73.5 GWh. This target was raised from 20 GWh, which was reached only eight months after the agreement between KiwiRail and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) in 2016. Fuel savings in locomotives are a major part of this effort and already 17 million litres of fuel have been saved since 2015.

By 2030, KiwiRail must reduce is carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels, in line with the Paris Agreement. Finally, as a state-owned enterprise, KiwiRail must achieve net zero carbon emissions, in line with New Zealand’s overall climate goals. Since the 2012 financial year, the company has reduced its carbon intensity of rail freight by 15 per cent.

To meet future goals, DAS has a role not only to ensure the efficient movement of freight but to provide a better service for KiwiRail’s customers, enabling more goods to be moved on rail rather than road. The KiwiRail network is predominantly single track, so making sure trains run to schedule is essential. This is where the connected DAS technology can contribute.

“The connected DAS, where you integrate the onboard systems back to the back end of train control can create a potential opportunity to tie those things together to take it to the next level,” said Low.

This can enable better scheduling to move freight quicker, without using more fuel.

“Our job is to provide excellent customer service outcomes,” said Low. “The first step is to analyse schedules to ask, ‘How do we take our existing journey time and look to cut up the journey into more fuel-efficient increments, what kind of fuel saving can we derive from that?’”

Getting to that point, however, requires buy-in from across the organisation, and this is where DAS’s fundamental benefits are important, concludes Low.

“This is not for us right now, it’s for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. It’s a long-term project, that’s why it’s so vitally important.”

Managing director of TTG Dale Coleman said TTG are extremely proud of its relationship with KiwiRail that embodies what success looks like. TTG and KiwiRail have combined world leading research into to technology that can be successfully implemented into an existing operating environment by a committed Kiwi Rail management and operations team.

Coleman also acknowledged the research excellence of the University of South Australia, which has been instrumental in the delivery of Australian knowhow in building a fully connected and integrated DAS deployed on more than 8,000 devices operating over 60,000 kilometres of track in more than 10 countries worldwide. The system delivers sustainability not only to KiwiRail but also other leading world class railways including SNCF, Arriva, First Group, Abellio, and Aurizon.

Addressing the rail industry’s engineering deficit

The Australian rail industry has experienced a shortage in key engineering skills for many years now, in part due to the ageing workforce. One solution to this issue is to increase the quality and quantity of training being provided. Whether it be given to junior engineers or retraining experienced engineers, a well-trained and experienced workforce is a fundamental requirement of any successful project. Formed in 2016, Omada Rail Systems is growing rapidly and has established itself as a leading provider of rail systems management and engineering services throughout Australia. As a company focused on growth and innovation, Omada is undertaking a number of initiatives to tackle this issue head on.

Upgrading training facilities
Australia’s current rail project boom has led to a deficit of highly experienced and skilled engineers, particularly in signalling. With an abundance of major projects being delivered concurrently, such as Inland Rail, Cross River Rail, and the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, the industry’s engineering resources are stretched thin. While being involved in many of these major projects, Omada Rail Systems has been chosen to complete a project aimed at tackling Australia’s engineering shortfall. This project is to upgrade the signalling facilities at the Rail Academy in Newport, Victoria’s only specialist rail training facility. Omada’s goal in this project is to transform the Rail Academy into one of the best equipped facilities in the world.

Omada’s junior engineers will be involved in all aspects of the Rail Academy project while under the mentorship and strict guidance of senior staff. This ensures they gain valuable hands on experience and develop a well-rounded set of skills, while completing work to Omada’s high standards. This work allows Omada to demonstrate its signal engineering capabilities, ranging from project inception through to the testing and commissioning phase. Omada will be creating numerous designs detailing different signalling and infrastructure scenarios. Alongside these designs, there will be duplicates made with intentional faults, to provide training in fault finding. When asked about his views on the project, Omada Rail Systems director Christopher Miller said, “This project is an exciting opportunity for Omada Rail Systems to enhance the development of our own engineers, and once completed, all engineers who train there.”

Bringing on engineers
Providing junior engineers with valuable experience in projects enhances their training and builds a new generation of engineers with the necessary knowledge and skill base to deliver Australia’s pipeline of rail projects. Over the course of Omada’s three-year graduate program, cadets are exposed to every aspect of rail signalling, from planning and design all the way through to testing and commissioning.

Offering a complete range of engineering and management services across all aspects of the project life cycle, including planning & scoping, feasibility studies, and preliminary & detailed design, Omada is constantly looking to develop all areas of their team. As a growing company with ongoing projects across Australia, there are a great deal of opportunities available to build on their current team. Putting a strong emphasis on Omada’s capability to train new and current staff, Miller said, “It doesn’t concern me if people are not superstars on paper, our engineers can guide and teach them along the way. As long as they have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and are a team player, we can give them all the training required.”

Boosting the industry’s talent pool
Alongside their engineering capabilities, Omada has subject matter experts providing signalling competency assessments, qualified to assess Metro Trains Melbourne, V/Line, and ARTC competencies. This service provides industry engineers with a value for money option when updating or attaining their competency, supplying the industry with a greater number of qualified engineers. According to Omada’s website analytics, 37.25 per cent of people looking for competency assessments are under 35, showing that there is a large talent pool of young engineers looking to develop their competencies and help drive Australian rail forward.

Following the delivery of a number of successful commissionings in Queensland, NSW, and Victoria, and the impending increased demand of testing and commissioning resources, Omada has proactively grown their testing team. Now capable of taking on much larger projects, Omada’s growth has created opportunities for inexperienced but hard working engineers to gain the valuable experience and training they require.

To find out more about Omada Rail Systems and the work they are doing, head to their website to watch their capabilities video or read their latest update. www.omadarail.com

Rethinking recruitment in rail freight

Australian Logistics Council CEO Kirk Coningham highlights that government and industry have to work together to attract a diverse, young workforce.

It will not come as news to those involved in freight rail that we need to attract a younger, more diverse talent pool to protect the sustainability of the industry’s workforce. At the same time, we must recognise that this won’t simply happen of its own accord.

There is ample research available that indicates the millennial generation of workers is more mobile and more likely to change jobs and industries than any of their forebears. A 2016 survey undertaken by Gallup noted that 21 per cent of millennials had left their job to do something else within the preceding 12 months – a figure three times higher than that for non-millennials.

More strikingly, the same research reported that six in ten millennials say they are open to new job opportunities outside their current organisation – again, far higher than figures reported for other cohorts.

On the face of it, this should be positive news for the rail transport. However, the fact that younger workers are willing to take a look at other industries will only be of benefit if they like what they see.

Regrettably, the freight transport sector suffers from a continuing perception problem around its ability to welcome female participants to its workforce, as well as those from diverse cultural backgrounds.

This is a considerable barrier to the attraction and retention of younger workers, who make their career choices (at least in part) on an organisation’s commitment to gender equity and diversity.

As well as dealing with diversity issues, the sector’s workforce must also address the fact that the increasing influence of technology across the industry will demand a broader range of skills than may have previously been required.

Although these efforts must be industry-led, there is certainly scope for governments to play a greater role in making certain the transport sector’s workforce is prepared for a changing world.

Many industry participants continue to note that the transport sector has not received appropriate levels of attention when it comes to skills and training support, especially in comparison to the hospitality, retail, and human services sectors.

As part of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the Commonwealth government has undertaken to develop a new Transport Sector Skills Strategy, in partnership with industry.

In its pre-Budget submission to the federal government, ALC has emphasised that the development of this Strategy must take particular account of workforce shortages being experienced by freight transport operators, and that the Federal Government must prioritise an increase in training opportunities available to those wishing to enter its workforce.

This includes supporting education and awareness campaigns that combat stereotypes about the nature of the industry, and which prioritise the recruitment of new workforce participants from diverse backgrounds.

Attracting a younger more diverse workforce for this industry clearly demands a different approach to engaging potential recruits.

ALC is committed to playing its part by combatting stereotypes about the industry and highlighting the impact technology and innovation are having and aligning these with the skills and ambitions of new workforce participants.

High school students begin rail qualification

The next generation of rail professions have begun a pilot program during high school to prepare them to work in the rail industry.

Victorian students in years 9 and 10 are undertaking the Certificate II in Heavy and Light Rail Fundamentals (pre-vocational).

The course will count towards a VCE qualification and is delivered at the Rail Academy in Newport. The units of study involve training in railway operations, including customer service, safety awareness, rail infrastructure and rolling stock. It also involves hands-on training at the rail academy in addition to a weekly class at the Newport Community Hub.

This year 21 students are enrolled from schools in Geelong, Berwick, and Ringwood. The curriculum has been developed by Swinburne University of Technology with the leadership of the Level Crossing Removal Project and the Victorian rail industry.

“As we get on and remove 75 level crossings, build the Metro Tunnel and upgrade regional rail – we’re training the next generation of rail workers right here in Victoria,” said Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

Currently, over half of workers in the rail industry are aged over 45, and only 11 per cent are under 30. With the increasing demand for workers with rail know-how and experience, pipelines of experienced staff will be needed, with 3,000 workers needed across Victoria by 2024.

“This Australian first is helping high school students get a taste for the rail industry – which is booming in Victoria thanks to our unprecedented number of projects on the go,” said Horne.

Once the pilot is complete in 2021, insights from the course will be used to further develop training programs.

In 2019, the Inland Rail project announced that it would be providing skills development for undergraduate students along the route of the project.