We invest a lot in our apprentices – we want you to be the future of our business
Your career path
Whichever career path you choose, you'll be working to transform this vast network of rail, signals, electrified lines and telecommunications to get them ready for the future. All the while you’ll be building experience that will set you up for the future, too.
Our railway lines are the economic arteries of our nation. The vital work you will be doing will help keep the lines safe and reliable for the millions of people who use the railways every day.
Don't worry if you're not sure which path to take. During the assessment process our experienced team will find the best opportunity based on your strengths.
As a track apprentice you will be responsible for managing the track network and keeping the railway safe and efficient. Working in a team you will ensure that the track system is operating to its optimum; this includes rails, sleepers and ballast that support the trains together with their associated drainage and ancillary structures. Starting off as an apprentice you will have a broad exposure to everything we do before starting to build your career working through the technical grades. It's an all-weather, around-the-clock job, so you could be out day, night and at the weekends. It's this kind of challenge which our apprentices enjoy the most. You'll need an eye for detail to identify any work needed to keep the track fit for trains.
Working on track often involves making judgments based on experience and know-how, but you'll also find yourself tackling new problems so it's essential to be able to work as part of a team when deciding on the best solution to an issue.
Hands on maintenance can develop into technically challenging engineering roles or a line management engineering position. You can have a whole career in track engineering with support and training which could include sponsorship to university and bring professional membership of the ICE, IMechE and PWI: from an apprenticeship to head of engineering, anything is possible!
Track apprentice : Hamza
The role of the off track function is extremely diverse and interesting. No day is the same. You'll be responsible for the inspection, maintenance and renewal of level crossings, fencing drainage, access points and vegetation management.
You could find yourself responding to incidents, dealing with public complaints or carrying out a variety of maintenance work on the infrastructure. You will also deal with faults and close calls which require a number of different skills.
The off track function is unique in terms of the diversity of work and the wide range of skills required for the delivery of the work.
Keeping 10,000 miles of overhead power lines mechanically sound and in the correct position is quite a challenge, especially as inspection, maintenance and repair can only take place when the trains aren't running and the power’s switched off. No two days are the same, when the wires are brought down the trains stop and using your knowledge and skill you will help to get them fixed and back up in the air, safely and as quickly as possible. Working with high voltage systems you will be making sure that the railway has the power to run the trains. Overhead line repairs are carried out around the clock, every day and over bank holidays, and can be at locations far from your depot so careful planning is essential. Working at height is routine, and you'll use various types of specialist tools and equipment to measure, adjust, repair and modify cables and wires that keeps Britain’s railway running.
In a technically demanding role we expect you to have a close attention to detail, be able to problem solve and work in a safety conscious way. A whole career in electrical engineering awaits, with support and training which could include sponsorship to university and professional qualification with the IET.
Overhead line engineer apprentice: Matt
Our signalling systems keep millions of people safe. Signalling covers a wide range of equipment and technology, from mechanical and electrical to computer-based systems, and safety and performance enhancement schemes. These systems make sure trains are safely spaced and switch from one track to another. They alert signallers to train movements, warn drivers and can stop trains automatically. Every day, we check, test, clean and fix thousands of signals throughout the country. This is done by taking and recording electrical and mechanical values of equipment.
As an apprentice you will be responsible for maintaining the equipment that moves the trains safely in a highly complex and fast moving environment. No two days are the same, you could be working on a major signalling failure to get the trains running again and people home or supporting a large engineering project with the refurbishment and renewal of points operating equipment.
As you will be required to work in small close knit teams, your ability to work with others is a key asset. In a technically demanding role we expect you to have a close attention to detail, be able to problem solve and work in a safety conscious way.
The first step will be to become a signalling technician and with progression this role could see you take charge of your own team and develop your technical expertise leading to a career as a signalling engineer. You can have a whole career in signal engineering with support and training which could include sponsorship to University and bring professional membership of the IRSE and IET.
Signalling apprentice: Laura
We have an advanced modern telecommunications network that connects all parts of the operational railway. We have a large digital fixed transmission network, which is carried over fibre optic and copper cables that run next to every railway line, and a GSM system that connects every train driver to the local signalman, as well as various telephone systems and exchanges. During your apprenticeship you'll work both trackside and indoors with teams that support a wide range of telecommunications systems including cables, transmission, GSM and modern IP based voice and data systems. The role does include an on-call commitment for response to out of hours urgent faults.
Telecoms apprentice: Adam
From overhead lines and conductor rails to standby generators and track and tunnel drainage pumping systems, electricity and plant is a vital part of our infrastructure. In fact, running the rail network takes 1% of all electricity generated in Britain. 40% of our network is electrified and 60% of all rail traffic is electric. You'll keep power flowing through the electrified rails safely and efficiently. Day to day you will work on the nuts and bolts of the electrification system making sure that the railway has the power to run the trains, signals and stations. This means that you will be working on high and low voltage systems, maintaining and fault finding equipment in a dynamic safety critical environment. You will be working both outdoors and in lineside substations on the distribution network all helping to keep the railway running. Every fault and problem is different and when a substation loses power you will use your knowledge and skill to find the fault and restore the power safely. All of these areas involve working to deadlines or against the clock to keep thousands of trains moving, that's what makes this area so exciting!