The need for train drivers in the capital is great. By joining with Southern in July and implementing the Thameslink Programme, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will connect the East Coast main line and the Bedford to Brighton route at St Pancras and create many new cross-London journeys.
Coupled with this substantial increase in services, GTR is introducing the new Class 700 fleet as well as three other new classes of train across the expanded franchise. With the introduction of the enhanced Thameslink timetable in 2018 there will be new routes to learn and ERTMS and automatic train operation in the central Thameslink ‘core’. All this requires one of the biggest driver recruitment and training programmes in the rail industry.
In 2015 alone, more than 190 drivers will be recruited and take part in over 24 training courses. To support this, additional operational training managers and driver managers are being employed.
The trainee driver course itself has also been revamped, borrowing best practice from other train operating companies, including London Overground.
Trainees are issued with iPads which hold all their course material, the rule book and all other relevant publications. There then follows a focus on experience-based learning with trainees going out in the cab with a driver-instructor and their own logbook, to observe and record live working situations. The trainees will then discuss and feed back on their experiences in the classroom with their fellow trainees.
Professional head of operations Steve Wright said, ‘We have a huge challenge ahead of us to make sure we are properly resourced for the introduction of new trains, routes and technology.
‘We’re determined to get this right and recognise that we can do this only by bringing in more drivers, and training those we already have in the new technology and signalling systems which will drive the transformation of our passengers’ services.
’In doing this, we’ve stolen with pride the great ideas put into practice by London Overground who I’d like to thank along with Rail Professional Development whose expertise we also used to develop this new trainee driver course.’
As part of the process of new learning, over 300 drivers and driver team managers have already gone through over 900 days of training, learning new routes to accommodate changes at London Bridge and being familiarised with new Class 387s now operating on Bedford to Brighton routes.
Spring 2016 heralds the arrival into service of the brand new Class 700s on the Thameslink route. In preparation for this GTR is taking its drivers over to Siemens’ depot in Wildenrath Germany for technical knowledge and practical handling on the test circuit there. These drivers will be the commissioning drivers when the new stock arrives in the UK ready for testing.
‘It’s an exciting journey and one we’re well prepared to deliver,’ said Steve.