Is working on overhead lines strenuous? It’s particularly enjoyable!
Strukton Rail carries out a lot of maintenance and renewal work on overhead lines. For overhead line and support construction technician Kerem Sahin (24), every day – or night – presents another challenge in trying to finish the work on time so that the trains can run to schedule. He really enjoys his job.
Working on overhead lines means working under pressure. After all, we have a limited amount of time in which we have to renew the agreed number of overhead line kilometres. At the end of the specified time frame the track has to be put back into service. We are sometimes faced with setbacks. This could involve a technical setback, or sometimes the weather, which is not always on our side. If there’s a thunderstorm, we have to stop working immediately, and with a wind force of 6 or above we are not allowed to work at height. But whatever happens, the basic principle is always that the track can be put back into service on time.
That kind of stress can sometimes make the job pretty difficult. Strukton sees that and helps us deal with it. For example, I followed a mental agility training course recently during Winter School (the annual training courses of Strukton Rail). This course dealt with issues such as coping with workplace pressure and stressful situations.
The job is also physically very demanding. Lifting heavy components and working overhead requires a lot of strength. I often hear from older colleagues that it was even more physically demanding in the past. Nowadays, we have machines and tools to help us carry out our work more easily. The exoskeleton which we are currently experimenting with is a good example. When you put the skeleton on, it supports your back and upper arms. It’s a very helpful tool when working overhead or lifting heavy materials. It’s a good example of the type of investment that Strukton makes to help us reach retirement age in good health
Whatever happens, the basic principle is always that the track can be put back into service on time
The well-being of its employees is of great importance to Strukton. And, of course, there is also the question of safety. There are many dangers that we have to take into consideration, such as the risk of collision, electrocution, slips, trips and falls, and entrapment. It goes without saying that we are given the proper provisions and tools to carry out our work safely. Safety awareness is also very important. Strukton has a safety programme in place (24Safe) to keep us sharp and alert at all times. Working safely is also part of the annual Winter School’s programme. In addition, we have to follow at least 12 toolboxes per year. There are also safety memos in the site hut describing how to manage risks and prevent incidents. Finally, we have the Strukton Work App on our phones which is packed with information.
"It goes without saying that we are given the proper tools to carry out our work safely"
Raising the railway
It might sound a bit strong – working under pressure, potential dangers – but I really enjoy my work. I have worked with my team on the Botlek bridge. It is the biggest vertical lift bridge in Europe. Different disciplines and companies are working together there to lay the railway track on the bridge. To avoid disrupting river traffic, we worked on one part of the bridge at a time. The ships were able to continue along the river under the other part of the bridge. Even though the new bridge is higher than the old one, it must be able to be raised for very tall ships. Thanks to a special system, the railway and the overhead lines can be raised up along with the bridge. I found it an impressive sight. It’s the coolest project I have worked on, and not without reason.
I have worked for Strukton for three years now and I still feel very much at home with this company. I hope to stay here for a long time. I first want to learn as much as I can as an overhead line technician. Because there are so many different overhead line systems, there is always something new to learn. My ambition is to become a foreman and, you never know, I might stay here until my retirement.