Network Rail launch challenging employer-led project with UTC Oxfordshire

On Wednesday 24 April, two representatives from Network Rail visited UTC Oxfordshire to kick off the ‘leaves on the line’ employer-led project (ELP) with students in years 10 and 12.

This challenging ELP was first introduced last year and saw some innovative ideas and very impressive results from the students.

Network Rail used the morning session with students to brief them on the serious problem of leaves on the railway line. This issue costs just under £2 million a year for the Western Route alone, and approximately £50 million a year to the rail industry overall.

When leaves fall, they stick to damp rails and passing trains compress them into a smooth, slippery layer that reduces the trains’ grip. This causes Network Rail huge disruption due to delays caused by a responsibility to keep passengers safe.

The five-week project was established to help produce a solution to this problem, considering set criteria such as being cheap to maintain, environmentally friendly and operated by only one person.

For the next four weeks, students will work in their teams; researching, brainstorming initial ideas and then producing a prototype of their solution, which will be presented back to Network Rail, along with answering a Q&A on week five.

One year 12 team member said: “It seems a really interesting project but quite challenging because of the set specifications we need to adhere to. We will be figuring out how we work together as a team today and mapping each of our skills to a role with responsibilities.”

This ELP will be challenging students and drawing on their leadership, communication, problem-solving and presentation skills.

We wish all of our students the best of luck in this exciting project.

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