Emma Taylor - Summer/Autumn 2010 diary entry

Network Rail apprentice Emma is settling in at her depot, learning about point maintenance, working night shifts and soon leading her first project.

Emma Taylor

Since arriving at my depot here at Westbury in June, I have learnt a huge amount of new things. I started off with the maintenance team and learnt all about what is required to be done as a member of their team. This included tasks such as taking readings from the bus bars within the location boxes, checking for earth faults and making sure the location cases are clean and tidy so that the equipment is kept in a high state of reliability and safe condition.

The maintenance team is required to maintain signals located along the track. This included climbing up a signal gantry and taking readings from the head of the signal and adjusting them as required.

Hands on work as part of the point maintenance team

I then moved on to become a member of the Westbury point maintenance team. I found this type of work particularly interesting as this requires a great deal of hands on work as well as undertaking lots of different types of servicing and routine inspections of equipment. So far we have worked on three different types of point machines, so you can imagine it takes a while to get used to the differences between them and what needs to be done to them.

It took me a while to remember the processes, however with some brilliant help, a bit of revision and encouragement from the rest of the team, I got there in the end!

Night work with Network Rail

We also worked a night shift after I found a crack in one of the stretcher bars. We were informed that the whole of the points would have to be pulled out, new stretchers fitted and then assembled again. This was a really good experience and the whole of the team got involved in order to get the job done properly and be in a safe condition and ready for operation.

Lead a Network Rail project for the first time

It is now late September and I have been asked to help lead a project with my line manager dealing with safety related issues. I am really looking forward to getting involved. I enjoy good technical challenges and so I think I am going to gain a lot from the experience.

It involves researching and investigating the use of Green Zones (safe working areas) within the Swindon rail infrastructure area. I have already interviewed many engineers and technicians about the matter and am going to be travelling around the country to speak with many other delivery units to understand how they maximise their use of Green Zone working.

A job that gets the blood pumping

It has been a fantastic experience so far, however I must say that standing in a place of safety and having a train fly past you at 100mph certainly gets the adrenaline going! It really opened my eyes to just how important and what a huge responsibility my job is. To me that makes my work feel just that little bit more special.