Britain’s railways have stood the test of time. Built over 150 years ago by the Victorians, Britain’s railway network carries over 3 million people every day, making 1.3 billion journeys each year. By 2020 another 400 million rail journeys each year are forecast. And it’s not just people commuting to work or travelling for fun. Britain’s railways carry goods we need, fuel for our power stations and materials to build our environment. But with only 20,000 miles of track, there’s a limit on how many journeys the current infrastructure can accommodate. So, to create extra capacity, new lines are being constructed, bottlenecks removed and digital technologies developed to allow longer trains to run more frequently.
At Fun Kids, the UK’s radio station for children, we want to help children explore the engineering and technology underlying a ‘digital age’ railway. We are working on a project called ‘Engineering Britain’s railways for a digital age,’ which is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious programme. As part of the project, we will create a series of 20 short audio programmes that will look at how to run more trains more frequently, tunnelling under major cities, re-building operational stations, electrification and alternative energy, and communications between trains, signalmen and the rest of the world.
The proposed series will focus on infrastructure rather than the trains themselves, exploring the impact that the developing railways will have on people’s lives and communities. The series will also introduce children to some of the wide range of engineering related careers across the railway sector.
Our series of 20 audio programmes will be broadcast on Fun Kids from late 2017. Accompanying the programmes will be a series of animated versions to engage children via our YouTube channel.
To help us in our quest to uncover the secrets of the digital railway, we have recruited a team of 10 young engineers and apprentices from across Network Rail and TfL to act as our ambassadors. Together, they will help to create the programmes, reflecting on their personal experiences and the engineering that has inspired them.
Our ambassadors will also help us develop a series of one-day media communication skills workshops. These will help more than 100 young engineers and apprentices learn current media usage habits and media communication skills. The goal of the workshops is to help participants communicate more clearly and effectively with audiences of different knowledge levels.
If you would like to know more about Fun Kids and ‘Engineering Britain’s railways for a digital age’, or would like to get involved, please contact Gregory Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to Fun Kids across the UK on DAB digital radio, online through the Fun Kids App and Radioplayer, or catch up on iTunes.