We spoke to BSc Transport Management graduate Jack Hope about why he chose to study Transport Management at Aston University, and advice he would give to students interested in the area.  

What drew you to study at Aston University?

When researching  I found Aston University was one of the few universities to offer a course that focusses specifically on transport management. I’d had an interest in transport from a young age, so this course was a natural choice for me.

The location was great - Aston is a lovely, compact, campus university in the centre of Birmingham. You get all the perks of city living, whilst also having a cosy, tight-knit community where you feel safe and can get away from city life!

How do you think Aston has supported your career journey? 

As part of BSc Transport Management, all students are encouraged to carry out a one-year placement working in industry. I worked at CrossCountry Trains, as a member of train planning. There, I had responsibility for producing short-term plan (STP) train crew diagrams for their train managers. This meant altering diagrams to accommodate amended timetables due to engineering work, special events, or other short-notice requests.  It might sound simple, but when one depot can work trains anywhere between Birmingham & Edinburgh, a line closure at Wakefield could suddenly mean all train crew were in the wrong place!

(A train crew diagram is like a list – it details all of the work that drivers, guards & catering staff will complete during their day's work). 

The skills I learned in my placement year directly help my career now. Gaining industry-specific experience helped me to apply for a range of roles towards the end of my final year, and ultimately secure a job working for a local train operating company in an area that I wanted to pursue. Not only that, the resilience and perseverance required to get through the placement year – especially during the Coronavirus pandemic – will be enormously useful in the years to come. 

What can you learn by studying transport management?Trains in UK

You’ll learn anything & everything about transport. There’s modules that focus on specific modes – such as rail. You’ll find yourself learning about innovative new modes of transport that might seem far-fetched now, but in 10 years, who knows?  

It’s not all about transport, though. There’s modules that consider how other areas, such as economics, business management & IT, can all link together to assist with the management of transportation, both now and in the future.  

Why should more students want to study transport management

Transport is one of the most diverse industries around – there are so many career possibilities that you couldn’t even imagine. It is so relevant in the current climate, and being a part of that is a way to make a real difference in the world, and get a really big job satisfaction

How did you find the academic support at Aston?

Aston has an excellent mechanism for listening to student voices – you can volunteer to be a ‘student rep’ for your course. These attend several meetings a year to feedback on how students are getting on, and the staff really do listen & make changes to improve the student experience. 
Nobody is going to get everything right – but Aston is willing to listen & deliver positive change whenever possible. 

What are you currently doing in your career?

I now work for West Midlands Trains, as the long-term planning (LTP) train crew diagrammer, which means  I have responsibility for producing the ‘base’ train crew diagrams for each of the major timetable changes (usually in May & December). I also support with other projects, and with STP crew diagrams, when I am not working on LTP diagrams.

As part of this, I get to work with a huge range of people across the business – be that train crew, train crew management, timetable planners, unit diagrammers…the list goes on! I love speaking to and interacting with, such a diverse range of people. It keeps the job really varied, interesting, and engaging.

What does the future hold for you?

I’m loving working in rail. It’s where my true passion for public transportation lies – it’s so rewarding traveling home, seeing the work that you have put into action, and seeing the difference you are making to people’s lives. 

Public transport the world over is in turmoil after the pandemic and is seeking ways to bounce back and re-grow patronage. There is work ongoing to look at bringing a nationwide body into existence – ‘Great British Railways’ – to improve the passenger experience & improve the operation of the railway. With this will come so many exciting opportunities – and I’m sure there will be many that I couldn’t think of right now!

I love what I do – and can’t wait to see what exciting opportunities the future brings. There are sure to be many!

What advice would you give to students who are looking at studying at Aston?

Go for it! The university has a wide range of societies, fantastic facilities & a perfect location for student life. Whilst it might seem smaller than some of the bigger universities – you won’t find the excellent location, campus, or business-led focus anywhere else. 
For this course in particular – Aston is located at the heart of the West Midlands. It provides the perfect opportunity to get out and about exploring, all whilst seeing the theories and practices you have been taught in real life. It makes the course far more engaging! 

To find out more about BSc Transport Management click here