Heathrow Rail is part of the Heathrow Airport Engineering and Asset management team. Heathrow Rail's responsibility is to maintain the rail infrastructure such as tracks, platforms, and signals that are then used by multiple Train Operating Companies (also known as TOCs) such as Heathrow Express, TFL Elizabeth Line and London Underground Piccadilly lines. This work-relationship is similar to how Team Heathrow colleagues operate at the airport, with airlines and other companies using infrastructure such as terminals and runways that Heathrow Airport owns and maintains.
As well as the rail infrastructure, Heathrow Rail operates and maintains the Heathrow POD system and the Track Transit System in Terminal 5.
Heathrow Rail fast facts: (pre-pandemic figures)
- Heathrow Rail operates 3 underground rail stations with a total of 10 platforms (6 Heavy Rail, 2 safeguarded for future expansion and 2 at T5 London Underground).
- 18,000 customers travel through the stations each day.
- The tunnels and tracks systems will be able to handle 24 trains per hour by 2030.
As a client of AssessTech, , Heathrow Rail use ACMS, their electronic competence management solution to improve customer service, safety and reduce incident management. AssessTech is a Totara Platinum Alliance Partner, incorporating their LMD into their technology.
Railway-related legislation requires that Heathrow Rail continuously refresh training for all safety-critical and safety-related roles. This means train dispatchers, platform and gateline staff and contractor partners all need to repeat their training every 6-12-18 months to remain compliant.
Prior to AssessTech implementing Totara Learn as part of their AssessBook product, they provided a Competence Management Solution (CMS) for Heathrow Rail alongside a Moodle-based learning platform. But as Heathrow Rail Competence and Training Lead , Carlos Chavez-Maldonado explains “Moodle was great to start with, but with AssessTech moving to Totara Learn, we gained the ability to add courses and continuously refresh training cycles for members of staff.”
Heathrow Rail also wanted an LMS with the versatility to not only deliver courses but also allow them to take a blended learning approach, and capable of combining in-class training with e-learning.
Following distinctive high-level organizational changes in 2018, where Heathrow Express operating company split their train services delivery from their infrastructure management, Heathrow Rail was entrusted with the entire railway infrastructure (tunnels, tracks and stations) related to the four Heathrow Airport-linked rail stations.
This change surfaced a surge in hiring and general activity as a variety of specialist roles were required for different infrastructural needs. Industrial & safety training at this point was critical, especially as employees onboarded and exited (from the parent organization) at a rapid rate.
Adapting to the rapidly evolving training requirements, Heathrow Rail worked with Totara Platinum Partner, AssessTech, to use Totara Learn LMS to digitize mandatory training in a more efficient way, improve compliance reporting across the organization, enable blended learning and refine the onboarding process.
Initially, senior management were skeptical about placing an emphasis on online training methods. This was due to the practical nature of the mandatory training and the assessments required for completing it.
However, the results of a blended learning approach eventually became apparent to stakeholders. Courses, quizzes and reports were accessed easily from one central place online.
Reports based on different roles, trainers, managers and assessors, for example, were easy to identify, adapt and send to different stakeholders.
“If someone asks me, ‘Can I have a monthly report on something specific?’ I can easily program it myself.”
And instead of wading through complicated spreadsheets, the training and competence team was able to easily generate reports and data to show:
- The number of passes/compliance for specific courses
- The strengths and weaknesses of employees
- The roles and responsibilities that certain employees were better suited for
“Totara Learn’s reporting is a game changer.”
The training and competency team used data derived from reports to evidence the case and request funding for training to use authoring tools to create and manage our own SCORM packages.
“The old Moodle based mobile learning site was clunky, hard to use and didn’t permit enough admin rights. In April 2019, AssessTech moved their implementation over to Totara Learn and it’s made a huge difference.”
The Heathrow Rail learning platform currently hosts 1,600 users, which provides training for both contractors and internal staff. Of those 1,600 users, 1,232 users are active (have logged on in the past year).
It offers 116 courses across two mega systems for Heathrow Rail and Heathrow Express, with 5,565 records of course completion to date. Most courses are compliance-critical and include:
Platform and train interface training (safety on platforms and trains)
- General railway safety
- Fire safety awareness
- Radio communications
Senior stakeholders have also acknowledged the powerful impact of having a versatile LMS — admitting that maintaining compliance as a railway station would be difficult without it.
“What I love the most about Totara is that it’s so flexible. I have 120 organizations and external contractors in our system, each one with different positions, competencies, and requirements; I can send a tailored program with personalized courses to all of them. We physically couldn’t have delivered that with our available resources and training rooms before.”
Today the training team has 100% confidence in who’s passed the critical compliance-related training and who hasn’t. And thanks to the self-registration plugin, the team is no longer troubled with the issue of duplicate accounts (before the self-registration plugin, people often created more than one account because they couldn’t remember their login information).
The training and compliance team’s favorite Totara Learn features included:
“Making reports in Totara Learn is easy. I can do it myself, and it’s nicely laid out and easy to pick what you need (programs, courses, users, etc.).”
Carlos and the Heathrow Rail training and competence team welcome AssessTech’s plan to upgrade from Totara Learn version 12 to version 13. The primary reason for this is to take advantage of the Totara Learn mobile LMS app, which will allow on-the-go and offline training (via tablets and phones) when employees are in stations and have limited reception and internet connectivity.