Rail Week 2017, the brainchild of the professional networking association Young Rail Professionals (YRP), began this Monday 9 October, with a series of events dedicated to address the skills shortage in the rail industry by inspiring a generation of young people to consider careers in rail. The annual events runs until Sunday 15 October.

Over 50 special visits and events, as well as inspiring talks have taken place throughout the week up and down the country, as part of a widespread school’s outreach programme. It is estimated that the week of events alone will have engaged over 800 young people and their influencer.

The initiative supported by the industry including the Rail Delivery Group, Transport for London, Network Rail, the Department for Transport, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategies, Train and Freight Operating Companies and the supply chain, aims to breakdown stereotypes of what it means to work in rail and showcase the huge range of people and careers needed to keep people moving now and in the future.

Highlights during Rail Week include; a visit to the GWR Reading Train Care Depot; the UK’s largest Rail Careers “High” Speed Networking event; the opportunity to see state-of-the-art trains close at the Three Bridges maintenance facility; and a tour of Freightliner terminal at Basford Hall, Crewe.

May-Ann Lew, Rail Week project lead, Young Rail Professionals and Consultant at SNC-Lavalin Rail & Transit: “Rail Week is our opportunity to showcase the range of different careers and skills in our sector and encourage people from all backgrounds to join rail. There are so many exciting and innovative rail projects coming to fruition and it is essential we attract young people to ensure they are delivered. We have had loads of great events so far and the enthusiasm from teachers, students and the industry has been amazing.”

Rail Minister Paul Maynard commented: “We are delivering record levels of investment to support the biggest modernisation of the rail network since the Victorian era, and our growing rail network means we will need thousands more people working in the sector in the years ahead.

“I’m delighted to be supporting Rail Week, which highlights the huge range of careers, skills and opportunities open to people from every background. We want to inspire young people, to give them the chance to see that they can make a difference in the rail industry, and it is great that companies across our thriving sector are reaching out to schools, colleges and universities to attract the next generation of rail professionals.”

River Tamoor Baig, Chief Executive & Founder of Hack Partner who are hosting an idea-thon with two London schools said: “Aside from the health, there is no other industry that has such a massive impact into the daily lives of people. Whether that’s using the train to go to school, work, or to meet loved ones – we all eventually find ourselves using the rail network some point in our lives.

“Rail needs more young creative thinkers and engineering talent to help it address the needs for the next generation of travellers, this can only be achieved if ambitious young people enter the fray and help create the future.”

Newcastle Rail Academy student witness emergency response demo

Key Stage 1 & 2 students visiting RTS Depot in Leeds