As demand for advanced railway systems in the US increases, companies are beginning to invest more in cutting-edge technology and improving operations. There has been lots of news recently of establishments seeking more capital to support such projects. One of the latest big stories comes from Virgin Trains USA which announced that it is working to secure financing for its $4 billion scheme, however, has it invested enough into attracting more talent to US rail? Here’s everything you need to know about the development.

US high-speed rail

Virgin Trains USA, which was formally known as Brightline, is proposing to build a high-speed passenger rail line from Las Vegas to Southern California and has applied to the Nevada Department of Business & Industry for the right to sell tax-exempt bonds to help fund the project. By securing capital, the firm intends to create a rail service which will rival the likes of Japan and strengthen the US’ reputation as a leading competitor in the industry.

Virgin Trains officials say a trip from Las Vegas to Victorville on the proposed train would likely take about 75 minutes. By comparison, the drive between the two cities on I-15 would take about three hours. The potential new train service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas has been in discussion for a long time, having surfaced in several different forms since Amtrak shut down its Desert Wind service in 1997.

The challenges

Despite officials saying that construction could begin in 2020 and be finished in about three years, we know that projects of this scale often take much longer, especially if talent acquisition hasn’t been planned appropriately. Much like the delays and issues that the UK is facing with HS2 developments, the Las Vegas to Victorville line will likely see similar problems unless staffing is made a priority.

The major problem that the US rail industry is facing is that there are not enough skilled workers to meet the growing demand. Despite the numerous innovative projects taking place and abundance of opportunities available, there is a lack of people picking rail as a career of choice.

With the workplace becoming populated with more Gen Z and millennial professionals, who are known to be attracted to digital companies, big tech firms are quickly snapping up top talent. So, how exactly can we solve this issue?

How can the US attract more talent to work in rail?

Too few great people see rail as an exciting career, however those involved in it know what an amazing industry it is to work in. Those employed in the sector need to be louder about this and shout about the fantastic projects going on – like the Vegas-to-California line. Currently, not enough candidates know about the new innovations taking place, or even the variety of roles available. In order to attract more talent to work in US rail, people need to be made aware of these developments.

This can be achieved by engaging with more graduates at work fairs, or even visiting schools and holding presentations. By getting involved early and positioning rail as a career of choice, more students will consider the sector while thinking about their options. In addition to students and graduates, project managers must do more to engage unconventional workers such as work returners, career switchers and women, who are unfortunately often overlooked. By expanding the talent pool, schemes will likely be delivered on time.

What Samuel Knight is doing in the US

As our regular readers will know, we’ve recently expanded our operations in the US, and we are now on the ground in Chicago, with bases in Atlanta, Boston and California in the pipeline too. We’ve made this move to be more client-facing and support businesses to effectively implement global talent acquisition. By creating more awareness about how exciting a career in rail is, and putting strategic talent plans in place, we’ll be able to bolster US rail and set it up for a future of success.

To find out more about the work we do, get in touch today.