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Hear from our team about working for Hitachi Rail Europe

Hitachi Rail Europe is focused on the delivery of social innovation in the European railway sector and we are successful in achieving this through new trains, signalling technologies and control centre infrastructure in the UK with ambitions to extend this success into other European countries.

As we develop as a business, our people become our greatest asset – learn more from our team members and their experiences of working at Hitachi Rail Europe below.

Chihiro Sawaki - Engineer, Newton Aycliffe

What initially attracted you to join Hitachi?
Hitachi is a national company represented in Japan. Across the world it is a sincere company with reliable, high quality products which genuinely contribute to people’s lives around the world.
What were you doing prior to this role?
I started to work for Hitachi in Japan in 2008 after graduating university, before moving to Hitachi Rail Europe in the UK.
What is a typical day like for you?
I spend a lot of time liaising between Japan and our UK teams. The core part of my role is to prepare the manufacturing equipment to be used at our new factory in Newton Aycliffe, so I work closely with the design and manufacturing teams at Hitachi, and our suppliers.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
I’m most excited when I feel I have made a real contribution to other people’s lives through our products. I can’t wait to see passengers enjoy the trains which we have designed and built!
What is the best thing about working for Hitachi Rail Europe?
We are working on an enormous project, and after we finish this – we can do anything!

Mohamed Sayid - Graduate Engineer, London

What initially attracted you to join Hitachi?
Initially I was attracted by the thought of working for such a highly reputable company. However, as I learnt more about the company, I became drawn by the success it had experienced and its progress in such a short space of time. Successfully delivering the high profile Class 395 and winning the contract to deliver the new IEP trains, I learnt that Hitachi was a company with a great future, strong ambition and a clear vision for its operations in the UK.

What were you doing prior to this role?
Prior to joining Hitachi, I was studying for my Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Queen Mary University of London.

What is a typical day like for you?
I am currently on a project management placement. I am the project planner for the AT-200 mock-up (a new train for Hitachi) which is a great opportunity for a graduate as the initial plan is such an important part of successfully managing a project. My work consists of going over detailed designs with suppliers, managing suppliers, updating the project plan, keeping a record of the components to be integrated into the mock-up and a number of other tasks. I always have something to keep me busy.

What do you most enjoy about your role?
I enjoy meeting suppliers and going over detailed designs with them. It is a great experience to see how all the different components need to be put together and observing the process of ensuring that all supplier parts come together so that the overall system works – it is not only fascinating but hugely educational.

What is the best thing about working for Hitachi Rail Europe?
The best thing about working at Hitachi is the wealth of experience within the company and the amount of work you are exposed to, it is great for progress and I learn something new every single day without fail.

Andy Rogers - Projects Director, London

What initially attracted you to join Hitachi?
I was attracted by the prospect of leading the IEP Project, which is the biggest single new train project in the UK, covering the delivery of new depot infrastructure and maintenance services, as well as new rolling stock.

What were you doing prior to this role?
I was Project Director at Bombardier with responsibility for the delivery of new S-Stock trains to London Underground.

What is a typical day like for you?
There are no typical days because the nature of managing a project is that things are constantly evolving. On a rolling basis my time is spent reviewing progress with project team members in the UK and Japan, ensuring any issues are being appropriately addressed and supporting as necessary and reporting to and interfacing with the customer and other stakeholders.

What do you most enjoy about your role?
Working and interfacing with a wide range of people to ensure that we successfully deliver a technically complex product with which we can all be proud to be associated.

What is the best thing about working for Hitachi Rail Europe?
The best things are that I am amongst a friendly group of people who are equally committed to delivering the company’s commitments and I am excited about sustaining that enthusiasm and energy as we grow rapidly as an organisation.

Alex McFarlin - Rail Training Manager, Ashford

What initially attracted you to join Hitachi?
I liked the idea of working for a new company that was growing so quickly. At the time, a lot of industries in the UK were suffering with the recession and Hitachi were an exception to that. I also wanted a new challenge and as Hitachi Rail Europe were new to the UK this was the perfect opportunity for me and my career. During my interview I was given a tour around the depot and I instantly knew that I wanted to work here. I haven’t looked back since joining Hitachi, it was the best move I ever made and my career has benefited greatly as a result.

What were you doing prior to this role?
Prior to working at Hitachi I was an Engineering Technician in the Royal Navy Submarine Service. My responsibilities on board varied from carrying out overhaul tasks on a Turbo Generator (a machine that uses steam from the nuclear reactor to generate electricity for the submarine) to repairing faults on an LP Electrolyser (a machine that generates air from sea water for the crew to breathe). I gained a huge amount of skills in this role, many of which were easily transferable in to my role at Hitachi. Since working at Hitachi I have held a number of roles. I started as a maintenance engineer carrying out planned and unplanned maintenance on the Class 395 train. I then took a position as a Class 395 Fleet Engineer providing over the phone technical support to train crews and I now work as a Rail Training Specialist.

What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me will often start with a couple of meetings. We are running Engineering NVQ’s for our maintenance staff at the moment so we often have meetings for that to offer support and guidance. We are also in the process of developing and installing a new remote fault monitoring system for our trains called “Trainlink” which will allow us to monitor the performance of our trains in real time, so I attend the project update meetings for that as I am writing and delivering the end user training to our staff. I often have assessments to do as all of our staff must remain in date to be deemed as “competent” to be able to work on the train safely. This could be anything from re-assessing one of our Depot Drivers (our staff who drive the trains in the depot and yard) to re-assessing one of our maintenance staff on how they maintain a piece of equipment on the train. I will then catch up with some of our apprentices; our two newest apprentices are in the process of building a test bench for the Passenger Information System which is used on the Class 395 train. The project presents a fantastic opportunity for our apprentices to learn about the system whilst also providing the depot with a new facility for testing system components. In last couple of hours of the day I would have a look at what ongoing projects I have. I may be writing a course on some new equipment or sourcing an external supplier to come in and deliver some training.

What do you most enjoy about your role?
I like the fact that no day is ever the same, I never have the chance to get bored and time goes really quickly which means new challenges come around fast. I like the fact that there is always something new to get my teeth stuck in to.

What is the best thing about working for Hitachi Rail Europe?
By far the best thing about working for Hitachi is the people. There is a really good mix of people who work here as well as a wealth of rail and engineering experience to draw from. No one is afraid to muck in when the going gets tough, which is great because it means that we all pull together to get through the difficult times. Everyone here has a “can do” attitude which when combined with the support that Hitachi provides results in a formidable workforce.

Lauren Cammell - Procurement Apprentice, London

What type of apprenticeship are you following?
I’m working towards a NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration.

What made you decide to pursue an apprenticeship, rather than follow the more traditional academic route?
I went to college at 16 to study fashion; this is where I discovered I was interested in ‘buying’. I completed a Level 2 Diploma in my first year and after researching how to get in to the ‘buying’ industry, I decided my best chance would be to stay and work towards a Level 3 Diploma in Business for Fashion. I listened to a number of lectures from leading people in the Fashion Industry, and one in particular advised that, “You never truly know whether something is right for you until you get a job doing it”. I considered whether I might spend 3 years at University and discover that I wanted a different career; so I started job hunting. I never really knew what I wanted to do until I found the apprenticeship advert for Procurement at Hitachi Rail Europe. I read the job spec and instantly knew I had the potential to do what was being asked. My buying knowledge also helped me out and gave me an understanding of how Procurement works.

How is your apprenticeship structured (i.e. how much of the week are you at an Hitachi Rail Europe site and how many hours do you spend at college per week gaining the theoretical insight to support your studies?)
I am usually in the office 5 days per week. Every couple of month I attend the Outsource Training centre in West Kensington to take part in workshops and tests. I have an assessor who visits monthly to review my learning, the case study’s I write which are relevant to the work I am doing, people I am working with and challenges I encounter.

How long have you been with Hitachi Rail Europe?
I started at Hitachi Rail Europe in July 2014.

What is the most exciting thing that you have had the opportunity to do since joining Hitachi Rail Europe?
I get to travel, mostly up to our new manufacturing site at Newton Aycliffe and also have the opportunity to attend procurement events; they can be fun! I also like the fact that I am gaining more responsibilities as I prove myself. I was recently given the task of sourcing the emergency PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] for our train being built in Japan, which is helping me build a better working relationship with our Japanese colleagues. It also means that I’m involved in sourcing the product, getting the quotation & placing the order.

How do you feel you have progressed since joining Hitachi Rail Europe?
I feel I have progressed lots. I have built great working relationships with colleagues, become more confident in dealing with people, challenges and my job. My job can be quite stressful and it’s hard to switch off; sometimes I’ll go home and think of things I need to do tomorrow. In the early stages of joining it was so much to take in and felt like so much responsibility, which was scary. I am glad I stuck at it though, I said during my interview I want a job that challenges me, that makes me want to come to work and not be bored and I have found that.

What advice would you give to others considering pursuing an apprenticeship?
Go for it! An Apprenticeship is a great way to start off your career. It gives you the opportunity to get a feel of the sector you are working in whilst learning.

How do you see your career developing in the future?
I know I want to stay within Procurement/Buying but there’s still a lot to learn. I’m more than happy to get stuck in and am keen to gain further knowledge within the field of procurement.