2021 – On the right track to recovery?

November 30, 2020

2020 has not been the year anyone expected it to be. Who would have predicted a Worldwide Pandemic this time last year? An unprecedented nationwide lockdown in March, and then a second lockdown in November for England(ending on 2 Dec) I’m sure would have been beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations. The impact on the rail sector has been significant, particularly for Train Operating Companies with passenger numbers significantly down causing cashflow issues and severely reduced income. Whilst some rail infrastructure works have continued and the good news in relation to HS2 being green-lighted, CP6 awards have been slow and it currently looks like much of the works will be initiated in the latter years of the control period and morphing into the CP7 programme starting in 2024/2025.

So the good news for 2021? Currently several coronavirus vaccines have proved to be very effective including the at-risk categories, so approval and roll out of these vaccines appears to be imminent. Nearly 12 million UK citizens are over 65 so a working vaccine will certainly help drastically reduce hospitalisations, severe illness and death. Reducing the pressure on the NHS should allow society to be re-opened in full, possibly by the Spring/Summer of next year. Will our forced change in working habits stay for good or will we return to the office five days a week? Will business travel return to pre-pandemic levels to help the TOC’s get back on track from a revenue perspective? And will additional investments in the rail infrastructure such as ‘project speed’ help create more jobs and above all give the UK economy the kick-start it needs to aid it’s overall recovery?

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday said the expectation was that unemployment could hit 2.6 million during 2021, so in my view the Rail sector (to aid it’s recovery) could help many thousands of these people re-train for a new career in the sector. Boston Rail’s model certainly can support this view. We actively support individuals from the ex-forces, and other sectors such as Aviation, Wind Energy and Automotive find a role in rail at an entry level point – in segments such as signalling, telecoms, electrification and rolling stock. We heavily invest in every person we provide from basic PTS training to relevant courses in the respective fields prior to an individual starting with a client. We have 1-2+ year programmes where Boston Rail provide the people, invest in them through training and assessments (such as IRSE) and work with our client in ensuring they are “buddied up” and have mentors within their organisation. At the end of the training and development programme, our clients have the option to take the personnel we provide on permanently (in exchange for an agreed fee). This model can help organisations who will be wondering soon “where can I find new talent?”. Boston Rail also offer upskilling for existing rail talent in return for commitment from our customers – so if you have contracts for a medium/long-term length we can help develop an individual in this time – such as help them achieve their IRSE licence, put them through OLEC 3 training, help them become a team leader – that sort of approach. We also offer bespoke recruitment solutions, these are achieved through understanding your challenges and we will come up with a way forward that is innovative, commercial and deliverable.

I firmly believe that 2021 is going to be a better year and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully no-one alive today will have to go through another global Pandemic, and due to our advances in science it looks like we can bring them under control much quicker than anyone could have reasonably expected. If you’d like to find more about what Boston Rail can offer, please drop me a note at tomanderton@bostonrail.co.uk

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