In the United Kingdom, rail has been king for so long that people often don't see the forest for the trees. Taking the 2002-2003 business year as an example, we can see that passenger railways remain one of the best ways to get around in Great Britain. The 976 million trips performed by British railways show the need of consumers and business travelers for a reliable passenger railway in their everyday lives.
British passengers traveled 39.7 billion passenger kilometers in 2002, which shows the great amount of ground covered by British travelers via railways. The passenger rail industry has come down from a historic high of customer participation in the 1950s, due to postwar industrial development. There are plenty of licenses still doled out by the Department of Transport to transport operating companies, which can range from local transit systems to national passenger carriers trying to compete in a difficult marketplace.
The fact that companies are still opening up and requesting licensing shows that passenger rail is still alive and well in Great Britain. The need for daily travel aboard British railways, coupled with the high standards imposed by the British government, means that engineering professionals should consider a career with passenger rail companies. Operating passenger engines require the work of skilled drivers and guards. Drivers need to be highly skilled in their particular type of engine, whether it is a traditional combustion engine or modern electrified system.
As well, drivers need to be good communicators in order to maintain a clear channel with guards, signal houses, and station personnel. Guards need to also be solid communicators, to ensure the comfort of passengers and the safety of train personnel. As well, guards need to be organized and be able to prioritize tasks aboard the train to avoid unwanted stops and delays.
The passenger railway in Great Britain thrives on a team atmosphere, which means that the ticket agent at a station in London is as important as a maintenance technician aboard a nationwide rail service. Engineers and mechanics need to be aware of a variety of rail technologies, as they often provide service to different types of engines throughout their career. Guards need to be able to speak with professionals of all levels, from customer service representatives to station managers. In all, the passenger rail industry in Great Britain is a good job market for rail professionals.
Mark Murphy, Business Unit Director for Wynnwith Rail, a leading provider of Train Jobs.