Rail specialist, Aaron Group, opens new northern-base

Aaron Group, rail industry specialists in civil engineering and programme management, has launched a new operations hub in Carlisle, as part of the company’s ongoing and significant expansion.

The new facility, which is based in Pacific House on Fletcher Way, enables Aaron Group to extend its service offering to organisations based across the North of England and Scotland, where a growing team will focus on developing opportunities with existing and new customers and supply chain partners.

Aaron Group offers a range of specialist solutions including electrical services, civil and rail labour, cable pulling, trackside drainage and more. The Carlisle-based team will also develop and work on a range of opportunities with the aim of securing places on some high-profile frameworks with principal contractors in the North and Scotland.

Dave Barnett, operations director for Aaron Group, said: “It is an extremely exciting time to be part of Aaron Group’s rail business, with unprecedented levels of growth leading us to expand our operations. We have been involved in some huge infrastructure projects in the last few years and we believe with our capabilities and resources we can further enhance our name in the rail and nuclear sectors.”

Aaron Rail has been involved in some high-profile rail infrastructure projects and is recognised for delivering safely and delivering well. The business received high-praise for its delivery on the multi-award-winning Ipswich Chord project, where it supplied over 3,000 person shifts to the Ipswich rail enhancements team. The company has also supplied labour for renewal and blockade projects for Network Rail and Alma Rail, receiving excellent feedback from both clients.

The new Carlisle operation complements Aaron Rail’s existing location in Stockport. The new operational hub hosts a core team of operational staff, contracts managers and admin support.

Railway soldiers

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SEVEN years of serving under Her Majesty’s armed forces has enabled some Fijian soldiers in the UK to earn themselves a living in the busy London City after they were made redundant.

Working in different railway companies in London is an occupation many of our Fijian men in the UK have come to love.

In an interview yesterday, former British Army officer Sokonaia Narawa revealed that working in railway companies in London had been of great assistance to many of his fellow soldiers as it helped them cater for their daily family living.

He joined the Aaron Rail, a railway company in Manchester, London, in 2008 after being made redundant in a major British Army cutback.

Since then, he has assisted many other former Fijian soldiers grab job opportunities in these companies.

“The pay is good because we earn every week unlike the army where we get monthly pays,” Mr Narawa said.

“Many of us are earning good money to cater for our daily family living and this job is really of great help in catering for our lives here in the UK.”

“Some of our Fijian counterparts who are still in the army do weekend jobs here at the railway company to cater for their family living, it’s a source of great assistance.”

Mr Narawa said since joining the company six years ago, he helped many others who looked for jobs when they left the army and this had become a trend.

“Now it’s easier for these other Fijians because we have the contact here, we have many railway companies in the UK and many of us are working here.

“Working here is really different from our army because here, we do a lot of courses and pay rise depends on the many courses we do.

“It has been the trend here that some join railway companies while some preferred to join private security firms.

“It is great that we get to help each other here and it’s good money. We just love it here.”

The brotherly love continue in the UK for these Fijians as they help each other find jobs and in making sure they earn themselves a good living away from their homeland.

From the Premier League to the frontline of the rail industry, Aaron Rail is forging a quite unique path

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Delivering complex rail solutions requires military precision, strong leadership and a work ethic fuelled by team spirit and togetherness.

In an age when improvements to the UK’s railway are wanted yesterday by rail users, a unified team with all members pulling in the same direction to ensure works are delivered on time and on budget is paramount.

Aaron Rail boasts a 100-strong team of ex-military personnel, bolstered by a senior engineering team with enviable experience in the rail industry.

With labour supply in abundance thanks to the growing number of companies offering man power to programmes of work that will come over the next six years following Network Rail’s unveiling of a £38m treasure chest of railway improvements, sub-contractors are jostling for position in the pecking order.

Aaron Rail’s perfect blend of hard-working, dedicated labourers and industry-leading, expert rail professionals as well as it broadened service offering is putting it at the top of that list.

Dave Barnett, rail and civils operations manager at Aaron Rail, said: “Aaron Rail has grown considerably since foundation. From being a small team of labourers, it now boases a multi-skilled workforce that is able provide not just labour support to projects but offer specialist project management as well as delivery of complex p-way and civils works.

“Led by our managing director, Nigel Eastward, we have built a workforce of largely ex-military personnel. The attributes they possess – exemplary discipline, strong work ethic, regimental organisation and team work, to name just a few, coupled with some of the most talented individuals in the rail industry allow us to offer a quite unique solution to contractors.”

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Mr Barnett joined Aaron Rail in June 2014 to lead the development of the company in the rail industry, having taken its first steps into the market as a supplier and fitter of lineside gates, turnstiles, access routes and other similar infrastructure.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Mr Barnett started his career as a trackman in 1999 at the now defunct Jarvis before working his way up to become supervisor and later operations manager.

As a 19-yeard-old trackman, he got experience of working in ‘gangs’, making tea for the team and spending large proportions of his time on the end of a shovel.

After impressing as a trackman, Mr Barnett was promoted to supervisor to oversee the plain line renewals at Doncaster before going on to become a senior supervisor for switching and crossings based in York, covering all of the East Coast from Kings Cross to Scotland.

He then joined SES as a project manager for civils before taking on similar roles at Carillion and GNGE, overseeing the upgrade of lines between Doncaster and Peterborough to enable freight trains to use the route.

Finally, before joining Aaron Rail, Mr Barnett took up a key role at Spencer Group, working on the Wessex package of works from 2011.

It is his vast experience and rare skill set of working on both sides of p-way – plain line and switching and crossings – that has subsequently allowed Aaron Rail to engineer itself into the rail market.

“My experience of working across the industry, fulfilling various roles at the likes of Carillion, Atkins, Jarvis and Spencer Group, has meant I have developed a strong understanding of what works best and what contractors crave,” he said.

“At Aaron Rail, we offer something that I believe is missing from today’s market – a dedicated and results driven group of labourers led by experienced and innovative rail professionals. On all our projects we ensure that our gangs – usually between eight and ten people – have a 90-10 percentage split of labourers and senior engineers or project managers respectively. By ensuring this balance, we provide the best possible solution to projects.

“As the rail industry continues to go through a host of changes over the coming years, buoyed by the outlined investment by Network Rail as well as other schemes such as HS2, we are positioning Aaron Rail as a provider of a range of specialist services, delivered by our unique team. Moving away from a single provider of labour to a specialist in all p-way and civils works is allowing us to showcase our offerings and make a real difference to the rail industry.”

Uniquely, Aaron Rail started out providing bespoke luxury gates to Premier League footballers and other high-profile figures across Cheshire. Since then, it has turned its focus to the rail industry after spotting a gap in the market for its specialist workforce to fill.

It has played key roles in the development of the Manchester Metrolink, the remodelling of Gravesend and, most recently, it deployed between 20 and 100 workers at various times over 13 weeks to assist with the delivery of the multi-million pound Ipswich Chord scheme.

Aaron Rail is a company that is benefitting from sourcing the right people, from the right backgrounds. Utilising experiences and attributes of ex-military personnel as well as of those who have plied their trade in the rail industry, it is quickly becoming a recognised sub-contractor.

With Aaron Rail you get a complete service, delivered with military precision, that is putting it at the frontline of the UK’s rail market.