Northern Trains Limited

Procurement of Train Simulators

Northern Trains Limited (NTL) is widely recognised as an industry leader in driver and conductor training. To further solidify this reputation, NTL initiated a plan to invest in new train simulators and engaged FPA Consulting to provide guidance and facilitate the procurement process.

With approximately 3,500 drivers and conductors stationed across their network and an influx of roughly 400 new recruits annually, NTL recognise the pivotal role these professionals play in their operations. Hence, NTL sought to invest in state-of-the-art train simulator facilities to ensure their team is trained to the highest standards before stepping into the real-world railway environment.

NTL is a subsidiary of DfT OLR Holdings Limited (DOHL), which took over the operation of Northern services on March 1, 2020. DOHL holds responsibility for managing four rail companies: LNER, Northern Trains Limited, TransPennine Trains, and SE Trains (‘Southeastern’).

Our Approach

Our Approach - Stage 1
Our Approach - Stage 2

Commercial Advice

FPA Consulting played a crucial role in the successful procurement of this project by offering commercial advice and a range of support services to facilitate the procurement of six full cab immersive train simulators and 24 compact desktop train simulators, along with the associated software and ongoing support. The successful tenderer was Poland based SIM Factor.

Active Management

Our support extended to encompass procurement strategy development, engagement with the supply market and active management of the procurement process. This involved ensuring compliance with the Utilities Contract Regulation 2016, defining the contract, leading negotiations, and ultimately awarding the contract.


NTL will distinguish itself as the first train operator in the UK to employ motion platform simulators, accompanied by plans to establish two new training academies in Leeds and Manchester. This strategic investment will not only bolster NTL’s reputation but also contribute to improved recruitment, retention, and the delivery of exemplary operating safety and customer service standards.

The train simulators will provide train drivers, conductors, and other rail apprentices with an authentic working cab environment, featuring 400 miles of real track footage from the Northern network.

In 2022, Ofsted officially recognised Northern as a ‘Main Provider’ of apprenticeships, allowing them to extend their industry-leading training services to other train operators and rail industry organizations. These train simulators will empower NTL to expand their training within real-world scenarios.

"The investment will enhance NTL’s reputation, assist with recruitment and retention, and deliver high standards of operating safety and customer service."

“We were aware of FPA Consulting’s specialist market and procurement knowledge and experience amassed over the past 26 years in the rail industry. Their assistance and expert advice have enabled us to ensure a technically compliant and cost-effective contract has been put in place. ”

Glen Fookes, Training Academy Development Manager, Northern Trains Limited
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