Echelon's ground-breaking actor-enhanced assessment for job applicants at the new St Pancras interna

From: Echelon
Published: Mon Jul 30 2007

While work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) gathers pace – focusing on developing the new line from Fawkham Junction to London St Pancras via north Kent and east London, as well as developing the facilities at St Pancras – Echelon Consulting is working with London and Continental Railways (LCR) to recruit, select and train the numbers and calibre of station staff necessary to help build an impressive reputation for customer service and care.

Since having highly developed interpersonal skills are among the most important criteria for getting a job at the new station, Echelon engaged the help of actors from Characters Drama Based Learning Ltd to test the 1,570 or so job applicants. In addition, the actors also played a part in on-going staff development training in customer care techniques for the railway’s existing staff.

After initially screening job applicants via a telephone interview, some 400 people were invited to the highly prestigious and conveniently situated Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in July for the final selection tests. There, in groups of up to 12 people, they took part in a half day selection exercise which involved:
• Watching a scene played out by actors Lloyd Campbell (railway customer service officer) and Catherine Hamilton (customer).
• Commenting on that scene as it is replayed.
• Commenting on a further scene – involving a customer complaint
• Identifying irregularities and potential hazards in a photograph taken on St Pancras station.
• Producing a report of an incident.
• One-to-one interviews.

Throughout the exercises, the candidates were observed by a team of assessors. All candidates were told the outcome of their job application within a few days of the assessment session.

"Echelon is also carrying out induction training for the successful candidates," said Echelon’s managing director, David Hill. "This training which follows on seamlessly from the assessment process is due to be completed before LCR hands over responsibility for St Pancras station to Network Rail in September.

"Once the new staff have received their technical training and induction programme, they will be undergoing further customer care training – thus putting in place the fundamental criteria by which these staff can be perceived, and judged, by the travelling public."

Hill explained that the whole programme – from recruitment and selection to induction and customer care training – has been devised to allow the ‘seamless’ reinforcement of a highly professional Network Rail brand of customer service. He added: "We’re very fortunate to be able to use such an excellent and prestigious venue as the Emirates Stadium to carry out the assessments and training.

"Moreover," he said, "we’re not aware of actors being used in this way – as part of the assessment as well as the training process – before. Indeed, we’ll be taking these actors to the Echelon stand at the Customer Service Management Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham at the end of September, where they will be demonstrating their ground-breaking role in this exercise."


NB: Pictures to accompany and illustrate this news story are available on request from Bob Little Press & PR (tel 01727 860405; email

Media contact: Peter Muir Tel + 44 (0)1296 715228; Email:

Sales contact: David Hill Tel + 44 (0)20 8568 1500; Email:

About the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL)

Full UK Government approval was granted in 1996 for the two sections of the 69-mile (108km) high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). The opening date of the first phase, 43km, was 28 September 2003, with the rest four years afterwards. Speeds of up to 186mph (300km/hr) make the journey time from London's Waterloo International station to Paris, Lille and Brussels up to 20 minutes quicker (fastest journey times of 1hr 40min to Lille, 2hr 20min to Brussels and 2hr 35min to Paris).

After 11 years of financial and political turmoil, the £1.9 billion project moved forward after the signing by London & Continental Railways (LCR) in October 1999 of construction contracts for the new line from the Channel Tunnel to Fawkham Junction in north-west Kent.

Railtrack agreed to fund the construction of the shorter but more expensive CTRL Phase 2, from Fawkham Junction to London St Pancras via north Kent and east London. This will complete a high-speed route from the Channel Tunnel to London by 2007.

The CTRL project was originated by London & Continental Railways, a consortium of eight major shareholders, including design and planning consultancy Ove Arup and Partners, engineering firm Bechtel, train and transport operators Virgin and National Express, investment bank SBG Warburg and French rail project manager Systra. Control passed to the newly-formed Network Rail in 2002.

Once the whole line is open in late 2007, London-Paris times should be cut to 2 hours 15 minutes, with Brussels possible in two hours. The Channel Tunnel portal is just 35 minutes from St Pancras and, from 2009, Kent services will see significant reductions with Ashford taking around 36 minutes from London via the CTRL.

CTRL domestic services will connect London with Gravesend, Margate and Broadstairs by joining the classic network at Ebbsfleet, while services to Canterbury, Ramsgate and possibly Dover will continue to Ashford to join existing routes there.

About Echelon Learning Ltd

Echelon Learning is a consultancy-led publishing house that integrates electronically-delivered knowledge and learning into the development of management skills and business performance.

Echelon Consulting spearheads the company’s service with the development of new content in meeting clients’ requirements. This is usually derived from analysing employee knowledge and learning needs captured during client learning programmes.

Where appropriate, Echelon Publishing then offers this new content to a wider audience by publishing the material in generic format. This is made available in the form of easy to use ‘learning nuggets’ and is complimented with business development information licensed exclusively from one of the market’s best-known providers, Bloomsbury.

Echelon e-Learning provides the electronic systems which enable content to be published, distributed and usage tracked, and offers work-based solutions to a global audience. Echelon’s blended learning based on a bespoke site populated with material selected to support specific courses, builds knowledge prior to the event and refreshes application when back at the desk.

About Echelon Publishing
Echelon technologies help organisations place solutions at people’s fingertips, whether solving everyday business and work-related problems or helping gain qualifications and continued professional development.
• Has a content management system enabling informational or learning material to be developed or converted into XML so that it can be published and distributed in text and/or via the web.
• Has a learning management system to provide ready access via the web to highly structured information, which is easily searched and retrieved, and whose usage can be tracked and learning logged.
• Publishes and/or reformats content for professional bodies and commercial organisations to help students and employees maintain or develop requisite skills throughout their careers.
• Supports people from the outset of their careers in working with professional bodies to develop and deliver the learning content required by students in preparing for examination.
• Frees up the knowledge and learning contained within a business so that people have ready access to these resources in helping them to solve problems or develop their careers.
Company: Echelon
Contact Name: Bob Little
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00 44 (0) 1 727 860405

Visit website »