English railway operator Northern Rail has placed an order for six motion platform simulators from the Polish company SIM Factor, in which future apprentices and drivers will learn vital skills.

With an expected delivery date of 2024, Northern said the first apprentices will jump on board by 2025.

The simulators will include 400 miles of genuine track footage from the Northern Network, giving drivers, conductors and other rail trainees a realistic working cab experience.

Lisa Leighton, people director at Northern, explained that the simulators are the highest level of specialist training equipment: “We have around 3,500 drivers and conductors based across our network and welcome approximately 400 new starters into these crucial roles every year.

“They’re the backbone of our operation and it’s vital we invest in facilities to train them to the highest standard before they enter the real-world environment.”

Northern announced aims to expand its academies to Manchester and Leeds and accommodate features such as training classrooms and static replicas of the driver’s cab for additional training.

The in-classroom driver’s cab is seen here in an artist’s impression. Credit/Northern Rail

SIM Factor VP Michal Wierzbicki emphasised the company’s commitment to the rail industry and creating bespoke training options: “We consider the recognition of SIM Factor with such a large project as a special distinction, but above all, as a commitment.

“After many successes in the European Union, we want to once again surprise the market with the quality and uniqueness of the solutions we will design, especially for Northern.”

In 2022, Northern was recognised by Ofsted as a “Main Provider” of apprenticeships.

According to the National Library of Medicine, simulation-based learning can be a way to develop health professionals’ knowledge, skills and attitudes while protecting patients from unnecessary risks.