Apprentice graduate, George Browning is the youngest ever Train Service Manager at GTR!

George Browning, is now the youngest ever Train Service Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), where he manages Southern Railway Ltd. The Portsmouth based 20-year-old began his Apprenticeship with Chartered Institution of Railway Operators (CIRO) in June 2019 and his studies with CIRO have allowed him to learn the essential skills needed to succeed in his career.

George dreamed of being a train driver from a young age, so the industry has been in the forefront of his mind for many years. After completing his level 2 and 3 NVQ in Engineering at college, George began his CIRO Network Operations Apprenticeship with GTR. Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, George was able to complete his qualification in June 2021, through perseverance and determination.

Now a full-time employee of GTR, George reminisced about his Apprenticeship: “I very much enjoyed the various workshops and events hosted by CIRO that showed the diverse roles within the railway industry.

“Because I really liked the practical side to my NVQ tutoring, so I was certain that I wanted to continue with education in an applied way. An Apprenticeship seemed to be the logical way to go, because it meant I could gain hands-on skills whilst obtaining a nationally recognised qualification.”

George explained that his favourite part of the role, managing Southern Railway Ltd so far is spending time conducting trains: “In fact, I believe I was also the youngest conductor with the company, which is another achievement I’m immensely proud of, and an ambition of mine from a young age.”

On his experience with CIRO, George said: “I’d definitely recommend CIRO to anyone thinking of starting an Apprenticeship, the expertise I have gained through my qualification is invaluable.

“I’ve already told friends who were interested in a career change to apply, as without the opportunity, I wouldn’t have reached such an important role so soon. It is the best way to get into the industry and will open doors to a lifelong career. Looking to the future, I would definitely consider CIRO to further my career again.”

In his current role, George monitors train journeys minute by minute, including lines in between central London and the south coast, through East and West Sussex, Surrey and parts of Kent and Hampshire.

Being office based, George has continual access to a live map which gives him a birds-eye view of the railway network. Part of his role requires him to coordinate with Network Rail, numerous train drivers and track signallers to ensure a safe, punctual journey for all staff and passengers.

Closely examining the map of railway lines, George identifies any issues with the track which could affect the smooth running of trains day-to-day. This may involve fallen trees, leaves on the line or potential signal issues. The Train Service Manager diverts trains via alternative routes to minimise disruption. He said: “My focus is on getting trains to their destination on time.”

George commented: “Every day, on average, nearly 500,000 journeys are made across the Southern network, which as you can imagine, is a monumental task to manage. The skills I have gained in my career and Apprenticeship so far, such as management and incident handling, mean that I can efficiently oversee the public’s daily commutes.”

Knowledge gained in his current role as a Train Service Manager combined with his Apprenticeship with CIRO will help George to reach his next career goal of becoming a train driver.

An apprenticeship is an ideal way to continue your rail operations career, combining study with ‘real time’ on-the-job training. If you are interested, click here to view CIRO’s Apprenticeships.

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