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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 191

Date:- 13 March 2005

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OVER 1,000 17 to 19 year olds are being sought in a nationwide hunt signalling the start of Network Rail's advanced apprenticeship scheme that is a £30 million investment in one of the UK's biggest apprenticeship programmes.

Over the next five years Network Rail will be searching for the talent of tomorrow who will help to rebuild Britain's railway. The 200 apprentices per year who successfully complete the comprehensive three-year course are guaranteed a job within Network Rail's maintenance function, which has centres across the country.

Iain Coucher, Deputy CEO of Network Rail, says:- "This exciting new scheme demonstrates our commitment to investing in the railway men and women of tomorrow. The scheme provides a fantastic opportunity for the successful applicants who will play a key role in helping to rebuild our railway."

For the northwest, some 26 apprentices are to be sought over the next few months to take advantage of this superb new scheme.

In the first year of their course, the aspiring young apprentices will be trained at the Royal Navy's historic HMS Sultan and accommodated 'next door' at HMS Collingwood, both located in Gosport, Hampshire. This combined 179-acre establishment, Europe's largest engineering training centre, boasts bespoke facilities, including:- fully refurbished accommodation, swimming pool, football, tennis and squash amenities and much, much more.

Almost £2 million is being invested in completely refurbishing living accommodation, common rooms, kitchens and classrooms within the complex. A massive hangar is also being fitted out with railway equipment, track, signals and structures, to help provide the apprentices with a real flavour of what's to come.

The young people will be taught by the very best trainers from the Royal Navy, Network Rail, and Flagship Training Ltd, and will 'earn as they learn', being paid £9,000 in their first year rising to £13,000 by year three.

The initial course of study will give the apprentices a solid background in engineering, leading to attainment of NVQs at level 2 and 3 and a BTEC National Award technical certificate.

Network Rail staff, delivering a range of rail-specific training, will teach the second and third years of the course. This will help to fulfil Network Rail's strategy of standardising its employees' set of competencies and standards.


EDGE Hill has been recognised in today's Government funding allocations as one of the most successful higher education institutions in England, with the largest percentage increase in the North West region.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) has awarded Edge Hill a 7% increase in income per student for 2005-2006, a funding settlement that significantly outstrips inflation and acknowledges the growth in demand to study there. Dr John Cater, Chief Executive is pleased that Edge Hill has been supported as it strives for university status:- "This funding award is the fifth largest percentage increase amongst major higher education institutions. The Universities of Bath and Warwick, the London School of Economics and Imperial College London are the only institutions to receive more funding per student. The settlement not only recognises the increased demand for places at Edge Hill but also its strong commitment to widening participation for groups underrepresented in the sector. It is yet further confirmation of the Government's confidence in Edge Hill to continue to deliver quality teaching for people from all walks of life," added Dr Cater. 

The desire to study at Edge Hill is reflected in an 85% growth in applications over the past 5 years and a 21% increase in the current year. "We look forward to continuing to train the nurses, teachers and the wide range of graduates needed throughout the region," added Dr Cater. 

Calling for common ground for underground

A report published this week by utility experts is calling for a standard approach to the way buried services like pipes, cables and other underground infrastructure and how they are located and recorded. 

The Geospatial Engineering Board Buried Services working group (BSWG) was set up to examine the current status of buried services and how a common framework could be beneficial. The group consisted of industry experts, including members from the Institution of Civil Engineers, Ordnance Survey, local authorities and UK Water Industry Research.

Over the years an increasing amount of pipes, cables, and wires have been added to the buried services infrastructure. But these different assets have been recorded in a variety of ways. In some cases the precise locations of services installed in the past may be difficult to reference now, despite the best efforts of utility companies. Paper-based documentation is usually given as a relative position, for example 'gas main in London Road, 6 ft from the kerb'. 

But on the map or database is the information accurately positioned? 

Is it a record of an actual main or an intended one? 

Who is responsible for it?

Marc Hobell, Strategic Development Manager at Ordnance Survey, comments:- "At present there are regulations and Codes of Practice (CoP) to guide those seeking and those providing positional information. But they do not necessarily specify how the information should be presented. Although legislation does exist some utility companies and other interested parties have voiced concerns that there can be confusion when it comes to locating and coordinating buried services. One of the objectives of the Traffic Management Act 2004 is to tighten these areas and give greater clarity."

The BSWG has now produced a report, with key goals for utilities and those with interests in buried services. The first is that a common framework should be established; with all geospatial data recorded using the Digital National Framework (DNF) system.

The DNF is an ideal tool as it is referenced to both national grid mapping references and the National GPS Network, which generates all coordinates using the same datum to provide a consistent method of identifying and reusing geographical information. Common encoding standards enable users to reference their own geospatial content to a definitive geographic base. All information can then be recorded within the geographical information system (GIS). This enables buried apparatus to be identified and catalogued (for example, listed as a water main), and referenced to the responsible body (with emergency contact details). Locational data can also be recorded to an absolute accuracy. This data then works with related datasets to ensure interoperability, consistency and internal integrity. 

The BSWG also recommended that all new installations or replacements should be recorded three-dimensionally rather than two-dimensionally within three years (also recommended in the Traffic Management Act); that a specialist dedicated champion for the continued development of a common framework must be established; and that transferable recorded data should identify the top of the buried item.

There is strong support for a coordinated, more clearly defined specification on the position of all buried apparatus. Not only are utility companies and highways authorities interested, but so are municipal engineers, emergency services and other specialist groups. 

Martin Cullen, Chairman of ICE's Buried Services Working Group, says:- "The Buried Services Working Group was formed with the single objective of providing this report. With the advancements in technology it would be reasonable to acknowledge that means and methods of gathering information and the recording methods will be constantly changing. The first steps have been made towards a more coordinated approach. But a continuing effort is needed to carry forward the aim of achieving a common framework for the benefit of everyone."


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