Engineering students from Furness College have been designing a high-speed rail system to connect two major cities as part of a virtual work experience programme.
The 13 students were selected to take part in the challenge set by Network Rail, which coincides with this year’s National Careers Week.
They worked in groups via Microsoft Teams to design a business proposal for a high-speed rail line connecting London to Birmingham with a focus on redesigning Euston Station.
The students were given a variety of different trains to pick from with various passenger capacity, speed and duration. They had a choice of routes to pick from and had to consider the environmental impact.
One of those taking part, Jody Wall, said his group looked at how to renovate Euston Station to accommodate the new line while keeping a flow of passengers.
“We proposed to divert pedestrians to a nearby tunnel which would reduce foot traffic and would also be much quicker route getting from place to place,” he said. “Our proposal will create jobs and increase recruitment for Network Rail and it is also an environmentally friendly way to do so.”
Jody, who is studying Level 3 engineering at Channelside and is hoping to secure an apprenticeship, said it was a challenging task with a lot of different factors which need to be considered such as the environmental impact, the overall effectiveness of the rail line and the sustainability of transport.
“Doing a task like this you constantly need to be looking at the bigger picture and it is good preparation for working life. It was an enjoyable and fun experience doing this and the hypothetical situation made it a great task.”
The proposals were delivered virtually via 15-minute group presentations to Network Rail staff, who have been on hand in real time to help with any questions from the students. The winning team will now compete in a regional competition, where they have the chance to win a site visit to a Network Rail location and spend time with our employees, looking behind the scenes at how we operate.
Alison Gill, work experience coordinator at Furness College, said it was the second event of the college’s Virtual Work Experience Programme (VWEX), following up from the partnership with Barrow Bid to transform the town centre for young people.
“Network Rail have produced some great presentations which has helped our students understand what it is they do because many of them did not realise those careers like these existed prior to doing this challenge. Doing this has been a great eye-opener for students into the vast number of careers that are available to them,” she said.
Jody said: “I am very happy I took part in this event because it has help aid my apprenticeship search and offered up a new path I haven’t previously thought about – everywhere needs trains. I am hoping to get my foot in the door for an apprenticeship, but also I get a cadetship award at the end of it which can be used to bolster my CV.”
Sarah Ogden, of Network Rail, said it had been a great success. “As part of the week, the students learnt all about Network Rail, the type of jobs we offer, how to join one of our early entrant schemes and looked at some of the day to day projects and areas that we work on,” she said. “They even had the chance to experience live Q&As with engineers from within Network Rail who have been able to answer students’ questions, talk about their job roles and how it helps keep the railway running.
“With Covid-19 and various lock-downs it has been a challenge to get any work experience students into our offices and depots, but we have tried to keep the virtual work experience as engaging and exciting as possible and we hope the students have enjoyed their time with us too – looking at their ideas and designs, they were very impressive!”
For more information about our Engineering courses visit: https://www.furness.ac.uk/courses/16-18/full-time/612/Engineering
For more information about how you can get Work Experience email: Alison.Gill@furness.ac.uk