date: 13th September

embargo: 00:01 14 September

Newcastle Central Station will certainly be living up to its name of The Education Station today (14th September) when more than 40 staff will be presented with certificates for their achievements in literacy, numeracy and IT by the Managing Director of East Coast Trains, Karen Boswell. Mick Whelan, Aslef General Secretary and Northern TUC Regional Secretary, Kevin Rowan will also be lending their support and attending the event.

The Education Station is the joint union-led (Aslef, RMT and TSSA) partnership learning project based at Newcastle's Central Station. The union-led project only began just over a year ago but is already creating a huge buzz at East Coast and has snowballed since train driver Tony Paul got on-board as a Union Learning Rep (ULR) last July. With fantastic support from East Coast management, and fellow ULRs John Healey (RMT) and Bob Howes (TSSA) Tony has been responsible for setting up a Collective Learning Fund, sending out over 400 Learning Needs Surveys to staff, asking them what they'd like to learn and organising events, courses and providers to deliver on their requests.

As well as the very popular English, maths and IT courses they have run short courses and taster sessions on everything from First Aid, guitar lessons, holiday Spanish to 'how to get the best from your mobile phone' and photography. The ULR team even ran an innovative competition where all staff were invited to bring in their best photos and display them. A selection of 13 pictures was then chosen by a panel and has since been made into their first ever East Coast charity calendar which is going to be sold on board the trains, to staff and beyond. Every sale will raise £3.00 for the Railway Children's Charity and they are hoping to sell hundreds.

Lead ULR Tony Paul, Aslef said: 'We are still a really young project but I can't believe just how much the learning agenda has taken off and been embraced by absolutely everyone at East Coast. It's been lots of hard work but an amazing success and myself and the other ULRs are 'full of busy'!'

Kevin Rowan, Northern TUC Regional Secretary said: 'Everyone here at East Coast - management, unions and staff, have clearly embraced the importance (and benefits) of investing in learning - whether that be with time, money, resources or a combination of all three. They have achieved a great deal in such a short time through innovation, commitment and the infectious enthusiasm of the ULR team. It's always very inspiring to be a part of events like this and a perfect illustration of what effective partnerships can accomplish.'

Karen Boswell, Managing Director of East Coast Trains said: 'It's fantastic to see so many of our staff take up these opportunities to learn new skills and have fun through this learning partnership with the Unions.

'It's a great pleasure to award certificates to everyone who has embraced the chance to further their education, and it is inspiring to see how enthusiastic everyone is about The Education Station.'


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Media contacts:

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Press release (600 words) issued 14 Sep 2012