INFRA Skills’ Ltd, winner of the ‘Proactive Educational Provider of an Apprenticeship Programme’,(Education Awards 2019), have recently expanded the company’s in-house transport fleet by purchasing a brand new 16-seater minibus to meet increased customer demand.

The continuous success of both the UK’s first Rail Apprenticeship Standard and fully-funded programmes,(designed to provide a direct route into the rail sector), has led to the company expanding its fleet to include a Vauxhall Movano 16-seater minibus. This will enable the company to continue to work towards meetings it’s objectives of helping to deliver highly skilled personnel from a variety of backgrounds to ultimately reduce the skills shortage and provide a lasting legacy for the industry.

Multiple cohorts undergo training with INFRA Skills every month and the programmes consist of e-learning, tutor-led delivery, at various locations across the UK as well as practical training on live local tracks and at the company’s dedicated training facility at The Severn Valley Railway in Bewdley. With regular travel included in the programmes, this vehicle will play a vital role, allowing trainers to escort learners to and from site safely.

The minibus conforms to the latest European standards on emissions and is fitted with sophisticated telemetry systems to enable the Fleet team to monitor vehicle and driver performance. This helps to improve driving styles, which in turn will bring important safety, fuel efficiency and emission reduction benefits.

INFRA Skills’ and its sister company RSS Infrastructure Ltd (RSSI), (a leading supplier of infrastructure services), were one of the first companies within the rail sector to utilise a specialist Driver Awareness Warning System (DAWS) fitted into vehicles throughout the fleet. INFRA Skills’ new vehicle will also have this dash-mounted device installed. The system works by focussing on the driver’s retina and measures their ‘blinking pattern’ sounding audible warning if signs of drowsiness, fatigue or lack of attention is detected.

As well as this, the vehicle will also have a Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) and a dash-cam device to protect the driver and passengers. Data is captured from the VTS, and can be used to identify trends and improve driving performance through advisement and training. Real-time footage captured from the dash-cams is instantly available, meaning the severity of any incident can be immediately assessed, and instant support and assistance can be provided. All vehicles are subject to pre checks before each use, using the RSSI phone application. The vehicle will also be monitored using telematics, which covers speed, idling, braking and the general driving of the vehicle to ensure it is being utilised safely and efficiently
Within the rail industry it has been identified that drivers not wearing their seatbelt has become a reoccurring issue. RSSI have designed seatbelt covers that will be placed on all seats, constructed of high-visibility material, to highlight the importance of wearing your seatbelt as well as acting as a visual reminder. The minibus also has a self-operating step for easy access into the vehicle as well as automatic headlights.

Following last year’s rebrand, the vehicle will reflect the company’s new brand identity. The ‘Superhero’ design, integrated into the minibus design, helps to position INFRA Skills as an organisation that can empower learners to become more competent, productive and safe at work; within the infrastructure sector and beyond.

The design also includes a comprehensive overview of the course programmes that the company is accredited to deliver including: Rail Safety Critical, Health and Safety, Construction, Welding, Mental Health and First Aid, Vegetation Management, Crane Controller, as well as being able to design and deliver high quality rail apprenticeship programmes on behalf of clients.
Steve Cox, Head of Training Operations, commented “This vehicle highlights INFRA Skill’s commitment to reducing our impact on the environment and being able to expand our fleet with a fully equipped vehicle which monitors vehicle use, ensures our emissions are as minimal as possible. This van will allow us to transport learners efficiently and safely to and from our on-site training locations, ensuring that ‘Everyone [returns] home safe, everyday”.