Rail infrastructure training program starts in the Pilbara

Alicia PereraPilbara News
PRM apprentice Ranahl Jimbidie, KBSS managing director Cory Byers and PRM operations manager Chris Prior in the company’s training yard.
Camera IconPRM apprentice Ranahl Jimbidie, KBSS managing director Cory Byers and PRM operations manager Chris Prior in the company’s training yard. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Residents who want to work in rail can now receive training without leaving the Pilbara after the launch of a rail infrastructure training program in Karratha.

Pilbara Rail Training, a new division of rail infrastructure business Pilbara Rail Maintenance, started in December to give PRM workers and anyone else with an interest the qualifications to work on rail networks around the region.

It is believed to be the Pilbara’s only rail training program.

PRM is an offshoot of Karratha-based KBSS Engineering, which owns 50 per cent of the company.

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KBSS managing director Cory Byers said Pilbara rail work was dominated by fly-in, fly-out workforces but the company believed it was time for more local involvement.

“There are a lot of locals that have a lot of experience, but there’s not many that have experience on track, so that’s why we’ve started this — to get them through the Rail Infrastructure Certificate II and III courses so they can do that work,” Mr Byers said.

“It’s a pretty high-risk activity, so people have to have the qualifications to be able to do that safely.

“At the moment, companies will send their people to be trained in Perth and then fly them to the Pilbara.

“We’re trying to create that difference, where we can actually train the locals and get them on the tracks with confidence, which helps us create a sustainable workforce instead of having fly-in, fly-out people in Karratha.”

PRT currently offers Certificates 2 and 3 in Rail Infrastructure and more courses are expected to be added in future.

Training covers theory and practice, with students able to train with equipment and machinery in the PRM yard, and includes a focus on rail network requirements specific to the Pilbara.

About 35 people have enrolled so far, with more courses expected to be added.

PRM operations manager Chris Prior said the courses had received a strong response so far and he expected demand to grow as a series of major Pilbara resource projects came online in the next few years.

“The way we look at it is in the next three or four years there’s going to be a lot more people coming to Karratha to work on the rail network,” he said.

“The more people we can get that are local, the better, and the only way we’re going to do that is by training them to be here.”

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