Calling fiftieth anniversary rail freight graduates
In the UK, Aston University has been hosting a unique transport course for half a century. Now the Birmingham based academic institution is reaching out to graduates who have put their knowledge and experience to use in the rail freight sector. In celebration of fifty years of the Transport Engineering and Management course, the university is asking former students to return to their alma mater to help celebrate the history of this unique course.
There may not be many places within the educational estate where transport and rail freight is the object of post graduate study. In fact, after fifty years, there is still only one. The rail freight industry has benefitted from the Transport Engineering and Management, gaining their caps in rail logistics, rail operations management, and rail freight economics, among a whole train of modules and certificates.
Future professionals in high office
Aston University has been teaching the course since 1973, when it was part of a combined honours degree. Back then, rail freight was a very different proposition. Birmingham echoed to the traditional sound of marshalled freight wagons at yards across the city. The transition to the hi-tech world of today’s high-speed block train operations was still in primary school. So it was with some foresight that the red brick Aston University began its own upgrade to higher education in the sector.
That combined honours degree, a valuable qualification in its own right, put many a future professional on the way to high office across the entire transport industry. As the sophistication of transport operations has grown, so has the course. That combined qualification has since evolved into a degree in its own right, offering BSc Transport Management and BSc Transport Planning degree apprenticeships. As befits the city of a thousand trades, the university remains the only one in the UK to offer a dedicated transport management degree. “Generations of our students have contributed no end to the UK’s skills in this sector”, said Doctor Lucy Rackliff, the current programme director and head of the department of Engineering Systems and Supply Chain Management. “There are few areas in the transport sphere that have not been improved by our graduates. If you studied transport at Aston University, we would love to hear from you with any stories and memories from your student days. And of course, we would love to hear about where your transport career has taken you.”
Born in a year of transition
The course has always had a focus on rail logistics. That’s an element which has become more important with each decade. Planning and controlling rail movements has become critical in today’s world of just in time express delivery and razor sharp margins. The rail freight advantage can be lost with a firm foundation in logistics. It is proving vital for everything from intermodal operations to bulk freight.
1973 saw more transition than the inauguration of the transport course. Just as the first students graduated from another British educational institution – the Open University – were receiving their degrees, the very last opportunity to view British Transport Films on public television came to an end. The still publicly owned British Railways was able to recruit and welcome its first, Aston University educated graduates in rail operations management, with a healthy side-order of technologies and processes used in rail operations management – not to mention a thoroughly space-age grounding in rail freight economics.
To share transport career stories, the University has set up an online group via LinkedIn and also invites graduates to contact the University’s alumni team at firstname.lastname@example.org.