TRAINING company Rail Tech Group has created an indoor replica of a section of typical modern railway infrastructure which is being used to provide courses for signalling engineers.

The lengths of track in Rail Tech’s Ipswich training centre simulate a compressed 1·6 km of line, and are equipped with a variety of signals, track circuits, rails, sleepers and points. Real equipment is used throughout, allowing staff to gain hands-on experience in a safe environment before going out on the real railway.

Lord Berkeley, Chairman of the Rail Freight Group, opened a £1m extension to the facility on March 4. This new area includes a solid state interlocking, which is linked to a route relay interlocking to enable trainees to study the interfaces between the technologies.

A range of technical problems can be artificially created in the equipment, allowing staff to practice fault finding and identification. Wires between the rails can be switched to replicate track circuit failures.

Rail Tech expects around 1000 people to pass through the Ipswich facility each year, giving their employers ’confidence through competence’. So far trainees have come from Britain, but companies from the Netherlands and Germany have expressed interest in the expanded site.

There are four classrooms for theoretical training, as Managing Director Simon Jamieson believes ’experience does not equal competence’. Rail Tech dedicates 8% of its turnover and 10% of staff time to training its own employees, and Dale Carnegie Training has recently been providing executive development workshops for the company.