Rail Leaders Engage the Next Generation

Oct 19, 2021

Leeds City Station Redevelopment Leaders Engage the Next Generation of Railway Builders

Leaders of Leeds City Station’s major redevelopment have undertaken the first of three engagement events to enthuse and inspire young people on the wide range of construction and engineering career opportunities the project will create.

The event, attended by over seventy students from Leeds College of Building, was led by Leeds City Council’s Head of Station Development, Angela Lawson; supported by BAM Nuttall’s Project Director for Leeds Existing Station Programme, Ben Baxendale, and Transport for the North’s Head of Rail Specification and Delivery, David Worsley.

Addressing the students, Angela Lawson outlined why the redevelopment of rail links to and from Leeds is critical to the city’s growth, saying, “Leeds City station is the gateway to Yorkshire and central to the national railway network. So, if there is a delay in Leeds, it can impact services as far away as Aberdeen and Plymouth.

“However, despite being critical to the country’s rail infrastructure and faced with rapidly growing demand for rail services, we still rely on Victorian infrastructure to support our 21st-century growth.

“In the year 2000, Leeds City Station welcomed 9million people a year. In 2019, that figure was 34million people. By 2043, we expect to receive 70 million people a year. Therefore, it is critical to the growth of Leeds and the delivery of a greener, more connected city, that rail services expand to meet future demands.

“In the next 20-years, we need a Trans-Pennine route upgrade; the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail; redevelopment of the existing station; the implementation of the Leeds Area Improvement Programme to improve Eastern and Western approaches to the station, and the delivery of HS2 East.

“All of these projects – which signify a massive investment in Leeds’s railways – will need people with skills in the building environment, whether that’s engineers, surveyors, electricians, BIM modellers or planners. That is why we are seeking to engage the next generation of railway builders.”

Outlining his start in the rail industry and some of the upcoming opportunities for current students, BAM Nuttall’s Ben Baxendale said, “for those students interested in building – which is where I started my journey in rail – there will be some really big civil engineering works happening at Leeds station over the next few years.

“Bam Nuttall already recruit apprentices from Leeds College of Building, and I’m hoping it’s a journey you guys can join us on, so we can continue our investment in people here in Leeds, which we have had for several years now.”

Further encouragement came from Transport for the North’s David Worsley, who said, “getting a variety of experience [within the rail industry] was the thing for me.

“I got loads of experience of different types of railway projects, and this helped me to move up. In terms of entering the industry. Now is the time to apply.”

Following the talks, the students got the opportunity to ask the speakers questions as a group and on a one-to-one basis, for further help and advice on career paths into the rail industry.

This week’s speaking event will be followed up with students visiting Leeds City Station and completing a competition/challenge at the start of the new year to encourage further engagement with railway building opportunities.