Information published on 30 April 2013 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 344.

2nd UIC World Congress on Rail Training 2013 “Learning for the future”

St Pölten Austria, 24-26 April

  • Expertise Development

UIC, together with its partners St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and DB Mobility Logistics AG DB Training, organised the 2nd UIC World Congress on Rail Training bringing together 200 participants from more than 30 countries. This World Congress was organised at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten, along with technical visits in Vienna.

The World Congress on Rail Training 2013 was organised at the initiative of the UIC Expertise Development Platform, chaired by Alexander Netolicky ÖBB Produktion, which draws its expertise from the regional Rail Training Centres Networks. Its main purpose is to enhance workforce development through sharing best practices in rail training across the entire industry.

The Congress was opened by both Mr Brückner, representing the Mayor of St. Pölten, and the CEO of St Pölten University of Applied Sciences, Dr. Fernandes. Mr Brückner underlined that the choice of St Pölten, the oldest city in Austria, was quite symbolic, as it was the city of railwaymen and that railways have always been part of it. Last year, Austria celebrated 175 years of railways which are essential to the city that is home to Training Schools of technical expertise and infrastructure.

Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, declared that

the Social Pillar, including training and education issues, is one of the three Key Pillars of sustainable development, along with environmental and economic issues. Training, education and workforce development have a key role to play to accompany and anticipate the changes. Demands on railway organisations are changing. The main changes include liberalisation, internationalisation/global market and supply chain, technical harmonisation and new technologies, as well as increasing service expectations, social framework (cultural change, employee satisfaction with growing demands for a professional and personal skill growth), demographic challenges and the loss of corporate knowledge".

The Congress was the occasion to foster new and innovative ideas and especially a UIC global project started this year so called “Network of talented youth”.

Mr. Franz Hammerschmid, Head of Corporate Development of OBB-Infrastruktur AG, focused on young European people aware of the growing importance of railways in relation to cars. In Europe the development of Passenger and Freight transport is essential. In Austria, rail represents 32% of the transport (15% in Europe) and the Ministry’s objective is to reach 40%, following the Swiss example. Inside the St Pölten railway station there are learning workshops and new projects are in development (train maintenance for example).

We knew the decade of liberalisation, but now we should harmonise to be more efficient, safe and sustainable".

Mrs Lynne Milligan, Human Resources Director, Arriva Trains Wales, and a key note speaker of the Congress introduced her company, a Welsh operator that is part of DB Group. The United Kingdom was an early adopter of rail privatisation which saw rail operations being separated from rail infrastructure which was provided by Network Rail. Lynne Milligan highlighted the fact that even if a company has the best training, it has to be reinforced and supported by managers. With their cooperation with RSSB (Railway Safety and Standards Board), they began developing risk based training needs analysis.

Amongst the topics presented and discussed during the Congress, some are essential for the UIC Expertise Development Platform (EDP): trainer development, customer service, development programme for young talents and non technical skills.

It was the occasion to deliver the results of the work of the various UIC EDP working parties, which were additionally supplemented by some research findings from academia or other institutions or in some case studies from different railway undertakings.

Professors from the University of South Australia underlined that for the future, the trainer needs to engage as a leader. In a constantly changing environment, there is a need for the trainers to change their mind set. The next steps of the UIC project “trainer development” will be the development of a generic trainer competence profile, the detailed benchmark of national trainer development programme and the organisation of workshop events sponsored by the UIC Expertise Development Platform.

In the area of customer service, it was acknowledged that it is hard to really define best practice due to cultural differences, but the greatest similarities were the increase of internet and online services. Railway undertakings therefore need to develop modern technology to adapt to the new generations and to increase e-learning.
Mrs Buthelezi, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) explained the case of South Africa where the Government took the decision to really improve Public Transport, besides the improvement already made for the World Cup. New trains, upgraded stations and modernised signalling are planned. But there are still some challenges to meet: high maintenance costs, poor predictability, infrastructure and technology. But finally, the priority of training is really the satisfaction of customers and listening to their complaints.

It is more and more acknowledged that Non Technical Skills are vital for safe and effective performance. Some case studies have showed the improvement of safety results when non technical skills are integrated not only in training, but across the whole Competence Management System (from the selection of staff to their training and continuous assessment).

A whole session of the Congress was dedicated to the role of universities in railway training, and one of the key messages of the Congress is that it is very important to have a platform where all stakeholders in rail training (schools, universities, rail training centres, the supplying industry...) come together to develop ideas and combine efforts.
On 24 April, participants had the choice between four different technical visits: ÖBB’s Wörth training centre, the Vienna Main Station building site and Centre of Operations, the Underground Control Centre in Erdberg and Bombardier Transportation’s Vienna plant.

On 25 April in the afternoon, the attendees joined different workshops in line with their interest. The choice was quite wide, offering the following topics: blended safety training, competence assessment, online diary, energy management, generic security training, improvement of safety and security levels, EU train driver licence, and dealing with complex social situations.

In addition to its partners, the Congress was sponsored by SNCF, Rail Training International (UK), Funkwerk, Corys, Bombardier and Voestalpine, Jilbee (e-learning) and Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa).

For further information please contact Nathalie Amirault, Head of UIC Unit Expertise Development: amirault@uic.org