Network Rail to reskill 15,000 maintenance staff

Rail operator Network Rail is having to re-skill the 15,000 employees it took in-house from maintenance contractors last year after finding that they had a “varying level of competency”.

Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said that after taking its maintenance operations away from contractors, the rail operator has been investing in new signaling training centres in Watford and Leeds and the creation of a £20m leadership centre in Coventry.

Asked whether the problem was due to contractors not providing the right level of skills for staff when they were running the contracts, Armitt replied: “There were varying level of competencies across the maintenance staff we inherited.

“This could be down to many factors: the geography of the contracts and some training providers used not being quite up-to-scratch and not providing the right environment to train staff,” he told Personnel Today sister publication Contract Journal. “We no longer work with these and now carefully select who we use.”

Network Rail is looking for another 200 to 300 staff to boost its maintenance teams over the next two years after the discovery of skills gaps across the inherited contracts.

In its preliminary results for the year to 31 March 2005, released last week, Network Rail made £120m like-for-like savings on its maintenance operations since taking them over a year ago.

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