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UK rail infrastructure: Big changes afoot…

2014 is looking like a monumental year of change for UK rail infrastructure. The UK's railway system is the fastest-growing in Europe thanks to significant investment since privatisation, which has led to an increase in passenger numbers to over 1.5 billion and a rise in rail freight by over 60%.
Network Rail's ambitious five year plan is set to commence this year with more than £12 billion scheduled for investment, and promises the largest increase in capacity in more than 100 years. This, combined with the next stage of the plans for HS2 and the milestone of the halfway point of Crossrail, means that rail transportation is taking its next big step in this country.

Here the Anderselite team looks at what this, among other things, will mean for the UK rail industry and specifically whether it will increase employment opportunities in the sector.
Network Rail infrastructure investment
Dubbed Control Period 5 (CP5), Network Rail's enhancement schemes will eventually total over £600 million per year extra over the next five years. Work that is scheduled to be awarded to contractors and partners over the coming months includes track contracts (comprising crossings, switches and plain line) as well as the framework for electrification (the erection of overhead wires and necessary power supplies) and work on the Great Western Main Line and Midland Main Line.

Early commitment to this tendering process combined with the five year investment plan allows suppliers a level of security which was lacking in the year-on-year budget plans formerly followed. It also means that the brightest and the best of the workforce in the industry can see a commitment to which they themselves are happy to commit.

HS2 developments
November 2013 saw a bill pass before parliament which, if approved, will pave the way for a high speed rail link between London and the West Midlands. This contentious issue, which divides opinions in the strongest possible terms, is a response to demand for more capacity and connectivity between the capital and Britain's second city, and all points in between.

If the bill is approved, it will allow the purchase of land, and the construction and operation of the new infrastructure by HS2 Ltd.

As we, as a nation, try to encourage people to leave their cars at home and travel via public transport, the rail network has almost become a victim of its own success, with demand outstripping capacity and passenger numbers doubling in the last 10 years.

Investment in the rail network was seen as a viable and productive alternative to investment in, for example, motorways which need greater land space and are less environmentally friendly than trains. It is anticipated that HS2 will not only benefit passengers, with increased capacity and faster and more frequent trains (up to 18 per hour between London and Birmingham, for example) but it will also provide a boost to freight services, as more goods are moved off the roads and onto trains. The consultation process will continue apace.

Crossrail still on track
Europe's largest construction project and one of the biggest infrastructure scheme ever to occur in the UK, Crossrail is designed to change the way people travel in our capital city. 2014 marks the halfway point of the project and the focus will now shift from heavy engineering to railway systems and tunnel fit-out.

More than 65% of the tunnelling work is now complete with and it is estimated over 10,000 people engaged on the project. Many of the staff involved in the tunnelling have been trained at the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy at its base in Ilford, Essex, and the levels of expertise that institution has engendered stand future projects in good stead for experienced, highly qualified staff.

From tunnelling experts to designers and civil engineers, the UK's rail network would be nothing without the people who work day in and day out to offer their best in an effort to guarantee that once again, Britain leads the way in engineering projects.

It is essential, therefore, that projects of the calibre we have looked at above are staffed with professionals whose expertise is second-to-none. At Anderselite, we believe that specialist recruitment organisations are vital in this process, offering levels of knowledge and experience which can ensure that vacancies across the board are filled successfully.
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