Hi, we’re Railsoc! We are a new society for people who love all things railways, whether that’s from an engineering perspective, historical interest or general enthusiasm. We’re first year students and noticed straight away there was no society for those studying railway courses. We wanted to change that – so here we are! Railways are experiencing record growth and we aim to provide a recognised student society to celebrate our interest in this growing industry. In our first term we set about organising events to get us started and to ‘test the water’ to see what people are interested in.
On a dark Wednesday evening in November we visited Cross Country Trains’ head office in central Birmingham. After some tea we were shown into the company’s boardroom, a rather grand room considering this was our first industrial visit! Our host for the evening was the Head of Train Service Delivery who began with a presentation on Cross Country Trains’ operations, the function of the control room and individual roles and responsibilities. We then split into two groups, one going over to see the control room itself and the other remaining in the boardroom to be shown an overview of how their control software worked. We then regrouped to finish with a question and answer session. The visit was informative, interesting and one member said, “This is exactly what I was looking for from a railway society”. Perfect!
We’ve got some exciting plans for our second semester. We're holding a private visit to Crewe Railway Heritage Centre which will include operating sessions in the ‘Exeter West Signal Box’, where members will get a hands-on experience pulling the levers and ringing the bells to simulate the signalling of trains. The Centre is closed to the public on this day meaning Railsoc will be the only visitors on site and visitors are not normally allowed to operate the signal box – this really is something special! We will also be visiting Kidderminster Traction Maintenance Depot at the Severn Valley Railway for a guided tour. This visit will be of interest to engineering students as we will see first-hand how the Severn Valley Railway maintains its heritage diesel fleet in this modern facility. We are also planning plenty more events for the semester and we’ll be releasing information about those in due course so watch this space.
If you’re interested in hearing more about either of the trips and getting involved with society in general we’d love to hear from you! We welcome anybody keen to get involved, no matter what your skills or experience. This is your chance to be part of something new and exciting, the first of its kind at the University of Birmingham. So join in, contribute your ideas and to make your mark.