Overhead Line Engineer at Network Rail

What is an Overhead Line Engineer?

Have you got an eye for detail? Are you a top-notch problem solver? Are you confident in explaining your thoughts and ideas? If so, a career in overhead line engineering could be a great fit for you.

DID YOU KNOW? Overhead line equipment (OLE) transmits electricity to trains. It helps trains to run, so it’s incredibly important to the railway – and so is the work you’ll be doing!

Overhead line engineers have specialised knowledge about the railway. To achieve this role you’ll build up your engineering knowledge over time, because OLE engineering is complex and needs electrical and mechanical engineering know-how.

What does an Overhead Line Engineer do?

Network Rail owns , operates and maintains the railway which train operating companies run their trains on, and you can be a part of that as an overhead line engineer. Overhead line equipment (OLE) is used to transmit electrical energy to the trains. It powers trains so that they can run!

As an overhead line engineer, you’ll be a technical expert in your field. You’ll ensure that the railway is safe and well-maintained so that trains can run smoothly and on time. It’s your job to make sure that the overhead lines are in top shape and meet all safety guidelines. Thanks to the efforts of people like you, everything that’s being built works. As part of your job you’ll be creating technical drawings for the overhead line equipment and making sure that designs are being implemented correctly by contractors.

Wait, there’s more: as part of your job you’ll also advise the designers who design the overhead lines on the best way to put overhead wires into difficult places (like under bridges, for example). You’ll also liaise with other Network Rail departments to make sure that any changes being planned don’t interfere with the OLE. If there’s a clash, you’ll make suggestions for what can be done to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

KNOW THE LINGO: When you travel to survey equipment on a site, it’s known as a “site walkout”.

Is a career in overhead line engineering right for me?

If you have great problem-solving skills, are able to explain your ideas clearly and want to be part of projects that will improve the public’s transport links then a career in railway engineering could really take you places.

You’ll oversee construction on OLE and liaise with designers, so it’s never too early to get working on building up the confidence to share your views and explain them clearly.

How to become an Overhead Line Engineer

Studying maths and science-related subjects at school will help you a lot in any engineering career. Not only will they stand out on your CV, they’ll also give you the foundation skills and knowledge to learn and grow in an engineering career.

At school and beyond, take the opportunity to network and meet like minds in a science and engineering field. As an example, there are a number of science careers events held annually around the country, like The Big Bang Fair and Technopop. Attending these events is very inspiring, and also a great way to meet employers offering opportunities, networks to join and people in the jobs you want who are happy to answer any questions.

Your first step will be to get a job in the field of engineering – either a graduate role, an entry-level role or an apprenticeship like the ones offered by Network Rail. If you can get a job in the Overhead Line Electrification discipline, it’ll help you get early hands-on experience and knowledge of what’s involved.

A career-boosting next step is to achieve chartered engineer status, which is required for this role. You can get this globally recognised qualification through organisations like the IET or IMechE.

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