See your work come to life on the tracks as an Overhead Line Engineer

Eliot Clark works on the Crossrail project as a Project Engineer for Overhead Line Equipment (OLE). Not sure what OLE involves? We caught up with Eliot to find out more about his exciting career in the rail industry.

Eliot joined Network Rail’s graduate scheme after completing a degree in General Engineering. Network Rail in return gave Eliot the training, skills and experience for a career in the rail industry. He loves seeing his work come together and thinking “I did that!”

Tell us about your job…

I work on the Crossrail Programme, more specifically on an aboveground site that includes Paddington Station and the tracks just West of it. I am one of the Project Engineers responsible for managing the design and build of any Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) on behalf of Network Rail.

The things I do in a day include:

  • Reviewing Overhead Line Design Drawings. Ensuring the designs work and matches what Network Rail requires.
  • Visiting the construction site to survey existing equipment, as well as making sure that things have been installed correctly.
  • Technical problem solving: making suggestions to the designers to help them fit overhead wires into awkward places (e.g. under bridges).
  • Getting involved with other disciplines works, to make sure they do not interfere with the OLE. When there is a clash, making technical suggestions as to what could be done.

The Senior Project Engineer supervises me and my typical hours are 9am-5pm. I am sometimes expected to work nights, weekends and bank holidays to provide engineering support on construction sites.

Find out more: Overhead Line Engineer at Network Rail

What are the best bits about your job?

I enjoy:

  • Dealing with people day to day
  • Technical problem solving (i.e. ‘What can we do to make this work?’)
  • Seeing my work being built on site! It’s real! It’s there! You can touch it, when it’s not high voltage!

What top skills or qualities are important in your job?

Thinking outside the box.

  1. Ability to explain your ideas.
  2. Ability to make sense of technical drawings and calculations.
  3. Confidence – being able to stand your ground when contractors are trying to do it “their way”.

What subjects did you love at school?

I liked Maths and the Sciences. I got a kick out of problem solving in these subjects. My job still gives me lots of opportunities for problem solving – though the problems often don’t have such clear answers as they did at school!

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Any job hunting tips to share? If there’s a company or a project you want to work for, don’t be scared to ring them up and ask them for a job! What’s there to lose?

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