Stafford rail project looks to the future with local apprentices

Left to right: Staffordshire Alliance’s newest recruits Jake Ashe, Emily Davies and Sahil Aggarwal.
Left to right: Staffordshire Alliance’s newest recruits Jake Ashe, Emily Davies and Sahil Aggarwal.

A £250 million programme to improve the railway between Stafford and Crewe is investing in the future of the country’s workforce with the arrival of three new apprentices.

As part of its commitment to leaving a positive lasting legacy for the area as well as making significant improvements to the West Coast Main Line (one of the country’s busiest rail routes), the Staffordshire Alliance is working closely with Staffordshire based PM Training to take on a number of new apprentices, either directly or via its supply chain.

The first of these are Jake Ashe, Sahil Aggarwal and Emily Davies, who have recently started work at the alliance’s site offices near to Stafford Station.

A former student at Blessed William Howard Catholic High School, Stafford, 18 year-old Sahil from Stafford hopes his role on the project will stand him in good stead for a career in the rail/construction industry.

Sahil said:

“Working as part of the alliance is a fantastic introduction to the railway/construction industry and an excellent opportunity to actually be part of a multi-million pound engineering project. The skills and experience I gain here will stand me in good stead for the future.”

Joining Sahil are 17 year-old Emily Davies from Yarnfield, who is providing support as an administrative assistant and Jake Ashe, 19, from Penkridge, who joins as an HSQE (Health, Safety, Quality and Environment) Junior Administrator.

Ian Jones, Network Rail programme manager and head of the Staffordshire Alliance said:

“It’s incredibly important that we encourage more young people into the industry as they represent our future. With PM Training’s support, we are actively looking for suitable opportunities to recruit more apprentices across the life of the project, either directly or via our suppliers.”

Steve Rushton, PM Training’s Director of Partnerships added:

“By working in partnership with Staffordshire Alliance we will develop an inspiring, innovative approach to maximise social value. This includes neighbourhood impact, real and sustainable jobs and enhancing life chances and will see us working with Staffordshire Alliance and its supply chain to deliver new apprenticeships and traineeships/study programmes.”

The move has also been welcomed by Councillor Jeremy Pert of Stafford Borough Council, who, as well as the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, has been working closely with Staffordshire Alliance in its engagement with the local supply chain.

Said Councillor Pert:

“With National Apprenticeship Week currently underway, it’s particularly pleasing to see an organisation such as Network Rail and its delivery partner the Staffordshire Alliance actively recognising the importance of recruiting young people into the industry. This helps provide much needed jobs now, whilst also laying long term foundations for the future, which will invariably benefit all concerned and provide a welcome boost for the local economy.”

The Stafford Area Improvements Programme seeks to remove a major capacity constraint on the Stafford – Crewe section of the busy West Coast Main Line through the delivery of the following three projects:

o Linespeed improvements between Crewe and Norton Bridge
o The resignalling of Stafford Station and the surrounding area
o A proposed railway flyover at Norton Bridge

On completion in 2017, the improvements will enable faster, more frequent services, reducing congestion and improving reliability, with the works delivered by the Staffordshire Alliance – a partnership of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Network Rail and VolkerRail, working as part of a new collaborative contract that will help to transform the delivery of rail infrastructure projects in the UK.