Teaching contemporary rail practices in the training room

The Certificate II in Rail Infrastructure, a foundational qualification for those in the rail maintenance and installation sector, involves over 60 units of competency and comprises seven core units and a selection of nine electives, spanning the maintenance and use of hand tools to safely accessing the rail corridor.

At the CERT (Centre for Excellence in Rail Training Pty Ltd), a training solutions provider for the rail and allied industries, courses are delivered by a team of trainers whose experience within the rail industry ensures that each unit of competency is taught with first-hand knowledge in mind.

One of those trainers is Craig Ramstadius, who brings with him 25 years of experience across construction and transport infrastructure. Sean Choat, National Quality and Queensland operations manager at CERT, described how Ramstadius brought this knowledge to the rail sector.

“Craig started his career in general construction, he worked for TAFE as well and about 25 years ago he got into rail and because he’s had experience with masonry, concrete, and bricklaying and it gave him insights into rail structures.”

Since joining CERT in 2012, Ramstadius has delivered courses through its competency-based approach to vocational education and training (VET).

“Craig worked in a number of companies, including Taylor Rail and he was in railway asset maintenance. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s done the work, but in terms of being an instructor, and he can assess people to their position of competence,” said Choat.

As a national training provider, with sites in each state and the Northern Territory, trainers such as Ramstadius have got to grapple with the varied standards and regulations that apply in each state and impart this flexibility to their students.

“Craig has come to Queensland to deliver some training in the past and it has been fantastic,” said Choat. “Because of the wealth of experience that he has, he’s able to apply himself, understand the rules and regulations in Queensland under this particular network because they’re all different.”

Similarly, Phillip Cavanough, a trainer/assessor at CERT can utilise a broad base of understanding across the rail industry to train the next generation of rail maintenance workers.

“Phil is very well qualified,” said Choat. “He delivers both our Certificate II in Rail Infrastructure and our Certificate III as well. Phil’s worked extensively in Queensland and Western Australia, he’s done some work in NSW and Victoria also.”

Cavanough, who worked for Queensland Rail as well as Fluor Rail Services, combines a knowledge of track infrastructure with rail operations, Choat said.

“Our trainers at CERT have that experience not just to construct a track, but to actually understand the interface between rollingstock, track, and signals,” he said.

Staying in touch

The experience that CERT trainers have enables them to understand the knowledge required to work in the rail industry that goes beyond the black and white stipulated requirements. Wayne Krause brings 22 years of experience for Queensland Rail and Aurizon to the training programs he delivers. Choat highlights that this experience brings more knowledge that can be shared with students and trainees.

“Wayne has qualifications as a track protection officer, so when he’s delivering training to our maintenance and construction students, he’s able to impart that awareness and understanding of rail safety and how it interfaces with working on track. For example, it’s important that you’ve got your protection in place when you carry out all of the processes so as to protect workers.”

Keeping this knowledge up to date is also something that CERT proactively ensures.

“Every 12 months, all of our trainers, no matter how experienced they may be, have to go back and do a vocational placement. So, they will go in to a rail environment and actually see what’s going on and participate.”

While these visits are a requirement, mandated by the Australian government for all training organisations to continue their registration, Choat highlights how businesses respond when a CERT trainer comes into the organisation.

“Our clients are impressed CERT values them as providing value in underpinning trainers’ industry currency.  As a result, our graduates hit the ground running having benefitted from their trainer’s exposure to current practice and technology on the job.  On the first day of work graduates are put into a gang and onto tasks and they know what needs to be done and how to do it.”

Undertaking these placements ensures that as the rail industry continues to modernise, contemporary practices are taught in the classroom.

“Our trainers are getting to see how technology and new types of equipment can improve the way rail work is done, so they can then come back and they can inform their learners, not on something that they picked up when they were a track worker themselves, but what’s happening now,” said Choat.

A holistic approach to training

After all, not every situation that a rail maintenance worker will confront can be simulated at a training facility. Bridging this gap, according to Choat, is the approach that CERT trainers bring to vocational education. 

“You can’t put people through and consider all the conditions they might experience on the job – they might be in night work, it might be wet, it might be confined spaces – so a good assessor can identify through asking underpinning questions, like, ‘If it was dark and there wasn’t enough lighting, how would go about performing this job? If a machine broke down, what would you do?’”

These outcomes ultimately deliver a more skilled and competent rail workforce, said Choat.

“We like to think that our graduates hit the ground running and they’re contributing to a better rail system in Australia.”

TAA to deliver Safeworking training in Victoria

Training Ahead Australia (TAA) will begin delivering safeworking training in Victoria next month on approved networks from Handsignaller through to Track Force Protection Coordinator Level 3.

Different courses will be on offer based on the level of seniority required by the candidate.

The course progresses through the levels of a further view on the current ARO Rail standards of paperwork and the importance of documentation along with hazard assessments. 

Dannielle Walz, Director of Operations at TAA said the current facility in Maribyrnong Victoria has a 20m track with a variety of concrete, composite, and wood sleepers with a half set of points, which allows trainers to go through more practical demonstrations. 

“Training Ahead Australia is an approved ARTC safeworking training provider and is looking to go above and beyond in the methods of teaching the courseware, through continuing to develop its current facility which includes day and night time training and its ability to show day and night time scenarios with train running at the Victorian distances based on the Victorian line speeds,” Walz said.

Walz said a great Track Force Protection Coordinator (TFPC) has the potential to add hours of productivity and to almost eliminate hazards from rail traffic based on their management strategies.

“Safeworking has the capacity to ensure that all supervisors and machine operators – along with all other roles required comprehend the job at hand and the timelines that allow them to conduct their works through the safeworking brief conducted by the TFPC for the shift.

“Since October we have been assisting over 22 individuals enter the initiative and it is something we are very proud to be leading,” Walz said.

“In the future we  would like the opportunity for companies or ARO’s to see the value of Trainers to facilitate and shadow Trainees in live environments once they are signed off to add value in the craft of Safeworking.”

WA opens Metronet Training Centre

Western Australia is investing $1.25 million towards a Metronet Trade Training Centre to equip locals with the skills needed to build METRONET railcars.

Midland TAFE will become a specialist Metronet Trade Training Centre next year The $1.25 million will go towards new fabrication training equipment, and the redevelopment of workshops to provide the specific technical and support skills required for railcar manufacturing and METRONET maintenance.

The TAFE is three kilometres from the site of the new Metronet Bellevue Assembly Facility where the new C-Series railcars will be commissioned.

Tenders recently opened for the contract to build the Metronet Bellevue railcar depot where Metronet’s railcars will be built and maintained, according to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti. The government is also currently finalising its order of railcars to be built at the new facility.

“The Metronet Trade Training Centre is part of a new hub of railcar manufacturing in Midland, which will allow us to deliver on our commitment to build at least 50 per cent of all METRONET railcars locally in WA,” said Saffioti.

“Midland TAFE will provide world-class training to meet the demand of our Metronet program in courses including engineering, metal fabrication, instrumentation and electrotechnology,” said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery.

Local students will also receive a 50 per cent reduction in fees for certain Metronet TAFE courses, including in civil construction and plant operations, as part of a ‘lower fees, local skills’ policy that will reduce TAFE fees for 34 high priority courses.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure the training needs of our Metronet rail projects are met,” said Ellery.