RMT Warns Of Skills Shortage Threat To Rail Plans

RAIL UNION RMT warned today that a looming shortage of skilled staff, driven by a failure to invest in training and apprenticeships and the dash to sub out key work to agencies and contractors, will threaten the timetables for future rail projects including the High Speed proposals unveiled this week.

The RMT warning is backed by research by the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering for the Office of Rail Regulation that was published just a few days ago.
For Signalling and Telecommunications, NSARE forecasts a need for between 1,600 and 2,000 new people in the next five years — with over 30 per cent of these people being at technician level or above.

“The reality of under-investment in training and apprenticeships across the rail industry, combined with the dumping of core staff...threatens the viability of rail projects" - Bob Crow

As for Electrification and Plant, 'the significant increase in activity anticipated in the next few years will underpin the need for around 1,000 new people, which is the equivalent of almost 30 per cent of the existing workforce. Of these, some 750 will be required as a direct result of major electrification programmes'.

Traction and Rolling Stock is where the largest absolute ‘gap’ in terms of numbers is expected according to NSARE – raising yet again fears over the delivery of the Intercity Express, Thameslink and Crossrail projects.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“The reality of under-investment in training and apprenticeships across the rail industry, combined with the dumping of core staff in favour of a casualised, agency approach, threatens the viability of rail projects of all kinds including the High Speed plans announced this week.

The figures coming from the NSARE make a mockery of the McNulty Rail Review plans, endorsed by the Government, to slash rail industry jobs in the name of cash savings. Britain’s rail industry will be left unable to cope with the progammes being laid out for the future if the Government don’t row back.

RMT has already raised serious concerns over the latest job loss plan at Network Rail which would reduce the frontline operations workforce of 5600 to less than 1500 and reduce the maintenance workforce by 8%, or 1250 workers, including 800 track staff, and would increase the use of external contractors.

This is a wake-up call for the Government, stop the rail job cuts and start investing in training and apprenticeships, or watch your plans collapse into chaos.”