Story’s track team proudly host the 2024 PWI Trackwork Challenge

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Story’s track team proudly host the 2024 PWI Trackwork Challenge

Last week, Story Contracting’s specialist in-house track team were proud to support the two-day Permanent Way Institution (PWI) Practical Trackwork Challenge event hosted at Bo’ness & Kinneil Heritage Railway.

The PWI Practical Trackwork Challenge is an annual learning event that brings together talented professionals from across the rail sector to showcase and develop their skills in track maintenance and construction. It is a unique opportunity for people who work in the industry with limited site experience, to work in a live railway environment in a safe and controlled manner.

The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway is operated by volunteers from the Scottish Railway Preservation Society and is funded by grants and donations. The line that runs steam trains on a scenic 10-mile return journey was in need of refurbishment and provided the ideal opportunity to host the learning event which fosters collaboration, innovation, and development for participants, whilst supporting the heritage railway.

Story recognises the importance of investing in skills development and promoting safety within the rail industry. By supporting the 2024 PWI Practical Trackwork Challenge, the company aims to contribute to the growth and success of the rail sector while inspiring the next generation of rail professionals.

Over two days, the delegates were split into groups to undertake all the steps involved in a track renewal project, under expert supervision. Following a total of 16 working hours, 200 metres of the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway line was successfully renewed on Site One, 75 damaged sleepers were replaced on Site Two, and 50 delegates were able to further develop their specialist skill set.


Jim Stevenson, Head of Track at Story Contracting, who hosted the event added: “Story’s track team were delighted to sponsor this year’s PWI Trackwork Challenge at Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway and witness the exceptional talent being developed within our industry. This event aligns with our commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaboration and we are proud to support initiatives that showcase the skills and dedication of individuals working in track maintenance and construction. Thank you to everyone who came together to support this event and make it possible, whether that was time, materials, or machinery.”

Stephen Barber, CEO of The PWI added: “The PWI is hugely grateful to Story Contracting, Systra, and the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway for taking leading roles in our 2024 Practical Trackwork Challenge, and to other PWI members providing support.

“Working together, we ensured that the event took place in a very low-risk environment. Delegates are mentored and closely supervised so that they can engage in the work, technical activities can be explained to them, and their questions can be answered in detail: a level of support almost impossible to achieve during time-constrained engineering work on the national rail network.”

“The successful delivery of this work will help the historic Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway continue to operate trains on its line from Bo’ness on the banks of the Firth of Forth for many years to come.”

Jennifer Evans, Graduate Engineer at Story Contracting who took part in the challenge added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the PWI Practical Trackwork Challenge. Training days like this are important as they provide a platform for professionals from different companies, job descriptions, and levels to share their expertise, helping to build a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical applications in industry. They also help provide a good network to build relationships that can lead to collaboration during different projects throughout our careers.”

Peter Mitchell, Senior Engineer at SYSTRA who also took part in the challenge added: “It was a rewarding experience to be part of the PWI Practical Trackwork Challenge, both in the design stage and construction. The Track team at SYSTRA grasped the opportunity to give back to a heritage railway by offering our track design expertise, and I thoroughly enjoyed time on-site for the construction phase too.”

Graeme McInnes, Engineering Director at Story Contracting who leads on the business’ early careers programme in Scotland said: “Providing support to industry bodies such as the PWI offers significant opportunities to enhance the capability of our early careers students. The knowledge gained and the ability to have hands on experience away from the operational railway is fundamental to reducing the skills gap. Having so many organisations represented is testament to the work that the PWI have been doing to improve the railway for future generations and we at Story Track are extremely proud to be part of it.”

The 2024 PWI Practical Trackwork Challenge featured a series of hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and networking opportunities for participants, exhibitors, and spectators. Story was delighted to join over 100 individuals from across the rail community at this exciting event.

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