today 135

Professional education for the railway system

In May 2019, PMC Rail International Academy opened its new training centre for all things railway infrastructure in Leverkusen-Opladen. Training and professional development in theory and practice for the railway system have now a new future-oriented site.

Following relocation from the previous training centre in Bingen am Rhein to Leverkusen-Opladen, PMC Rail International Academy GmbH celebrated the official opening of its new training site on 21st May 2019. Despite several extensions, the Bingen station building could no longer meet the requirements and demand: a floor space covering approx. 650 square metres was no longer big enough for the 520 course participants attending in 2018. Now the three-storey, generous new-build in the new railway town of Opladen offers far more space, capacity, light and possibilities. The building also houses Germany’s first “Licensed Training Centre of Bosch-Rexroth” and the specialist publisher PMC Media House.

“I am speechless, looking at what has been achieved here”, said Johannes Max-Theurer, the academy’s founder, at the opening ceremony. He was convinced that PMC Rail International Academy was offering “added value for the railway sector”. With this new site, the company will contribute to the success of the railway system. In Opladen, the training focuses on basic and special knowledge integrating different manufacturers; training in analogue technologies, such as hydraulic hose, switch, potentiometer, is as important as training in various simulators in a fully digital world and virtual reality. The centre houses seven seminar rooms for different group sizes, depending on the topic. In light of the acute shortage of skilled staff in the railway construction sector the significance of the new academy cannot be predicted yet – however, the company expects to have over 1000 course participants per year in the near future.

A wide range of courses

Antonio Intini, Managing Director of PMC Rail International Academy, emphasised the performance of all those involved in the new-build, which was completed within 13 months. Intini and all his colleagues have relocated from Bingen to Opladen. The academy currently has twelve positions filled, with a further ten planned for the near future. The common objective is to provide courses tailored to the individual, from railway construction basic knowledge, special knowledge for hydraulic or electrical experts and other functions through to machine and train drivers.

Among the core equipment much admired by the guests of the opening ceremony were the five simulators. The authentic cabs of two common types of tamping machines, the 09-3X and Unimat 09-4x4/4S, with their original controls and displays are exact replicas of the tamping and lead wagon cabs. The true-to-size monitors arranged in true layout show a view of the line, track or turnout and tamping tine. Human errors “on the line” do not result in any damage. In similar fashion, PMC Rail International Academy will also offer training and professional development for train drivers; it has already obtained the required certification from the German Federal Railway Authority.

New hydraulics study area

Other well-established analogue and digital equipment has remained unchanged, e.g. the automatic guiding computer with measuring and control systems. A Virtual Reality Station with 3D goggles provides support in learning maintenance processes on two machine types. The hydraulics study area with two allocated seminar rooms has been completely reorganised. Here PMC Rail International Academy cooperates with its industrial partner Bosch Rexroth. Original components and teaching aids provided by the hydraulics specialist promote understanding and help trainees to familiarise themselves with the equipment. The PMC Rail International Academy trainers obtain an additional qualification from Bosch Rexroth, which is the same as for their own trainers, as well as anytime access to all training media that the global company uses in many languages.

The nearby facilities of the Opladen maintenance workshop of Deutsche Plasser can be used for practical training on the track. Leverkusen’s Lord Mayor Uwe Richrath praised the launch of the academy on the historic site of the railway workshop that was closed in 2003 after 100 years of operation: "Here the rail has been brought back to life!"