Rail maintenance specialist A.P. Webb Plant Hire has quadrupled its intake of apprentice rail plant engineer-operators thanks to a tailormade programme and recruitment support from Reaseheath Training.

The expanding Staffordshire company helps to keep the nation’s trains running by providing solutions to a wide range of track maintenance problems for Network Rail and other principal contractors

To remain at the forefront of such a demanding and fast paced industry the company required a new breed of dual skilled rail plant engineer-operators, able to both fix and operate complex rail track machinery.

In addition the engineers needed a robust and professional attitude, as they would be on 24 hour call out to attend breakdowns anywhere in the country and have to operate under strict time restraints.

Explained Paul Helks, A.P. Webb’s Compliance Director: “This is a demanding job, as every minute lost due to breakdown is very costly. We need engineer-operators who are reliable, capable and bold and we felt that the only way to ensure workforce continuity was to grow our own staff.”

Reaseheath Training came up with a dual pronged approach which has resulted in an accredited Level 2 training programme structured specifically for A.P. Webb apprentices. Currently 13 apprentices receive theory and diagnostic training in the classroom and in the college workshops on rotational block release, and continue learning operating skills at A.P. Webb’s training school. All are on track to progress onto a Level 3 programme.

Continued Paul: “Reaseheath Training really stepped up to the mark by capturing the right candidates for us and by building a training programme which answered all our needs. Reaseheath’s facilities are excellent and the college ethos is superb. Everyone goes out of their way to be helpful.

“We offer great opportunities for young people who are looking for a career with qualifications and progression. We now feel we have a proven blueprint for finding and training the right people, which is exactly what our company needs.”

Harvey Patterson, 19, who had just finished his first training block at Reaseheath, said: “I really enjoyed my time at college. There were lots of opportunities for individual training and I feel that I learned a lot and am much more confident. My family have been involved in the railway for years and I’m hoping that I’ll carry on the tradition and have a good career too “.

Joe Ball, 20, said: “I was attracted to rail engineering over agricultural engineering because it’s more technically advanced.  Because this is a global qualification I could operate and and fix hi-tech rail plant all over the world once I’m qualified. On the other hand there are massive opportunities with A.P. Webb also, so I’m confident I have a great future ahead.”