Our level 2 operations apprenticeship is your opportunity to learn on the job whilst studying for a professional qualification.

Start your career with us and do meaningful work every day at Network Rail.

Sarah, one of our level 2 apprentices, wearing an orange hi visibility jacket and a hard hat.

About you

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You're 18 years or older

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You don’t need any specific qualifications​

Whilst no specific qualifications are required. We look for candidates that can demonstrate the following behaviours:

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Calm under pressure

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Great communicator

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Team worker

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Problem solver

Where will I be based?

Our apprenticeship locations are:

  • Colchester
  • Cambridge
  • Ipswich
  • London – Liverpool Street
  • Willesden

This scheme is now closed

We will update this page in advance of taking applications for our next intake.

Your training programme

Our 12-month programme gives you practical hands-on experience and strong foundations of industry knowledge.

The apprenticeship will prepare you to secure a permanent signaller role and to develop a long term, rewarding career in operations. Over the course of the 12 months, you’ll experience other areas of operations such as incident response, electrical control, planning, maintenance and stations.

You’ll also have a placement with a Train Operating Company to get another perspective of our rail network.

We'll prepare you for your final assessment in becoming a member of the Institution of Railway Operators to become a qualified signaller.

So take ownership of your career journey and join a company where you’ll do meaningful work every day.

Your learning journey

Modularised into four sections throughout your 12-months on this apprenticeship scheme.

A blended approach of classroom learning and placements to understanding the customer experience and the impact that railway operations can have on our passengers.

A classroom module and time with a Mobile Operations Manager, Information Controller, Network Delivery Manager, Incident Controller and British Transport Police.

Time with Fault Control, Community Safety Managers and Community Rail Partnerships.

A placement within Maintenance to fully understand the trust that our track workers put in signallers to help to keep them safe. You’ll spend time with Section Planners and the Fault Team.

Includes classroom learning: Intro to Electrical Control as well as time with Electrical Control, Route Access Planning.

Gain knowledge and experience of the working relationship between Network Rail and the train operating companies. Experience a day in the life of a Train Manager and see railway operations from their perspective.

Time spent developing in a signalling location.

To put all your leaning into practice. We'll prepare you for your final assessment in becoming a member of the Institution of Railway Operators to become a qualified signaller.

Watch the video below to hear from Ivy and Katie, who talk through their experiences during their placements on the programme.

You matter to us

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You support Britain’s economic development

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A great alternative to full time education by learning on the job

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You’ll have opportunities for progression to realise your potential

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You gain a professional qualification

Your salary & benefits

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£26,485 starting salary

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Performance related pay scheme to recognise your work

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Subsidies of up to 75% on rail and underground season tickets

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My benefits – Our discounted online shopping site

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28 days annual leave

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A range of pension schemes

What opportunities are available at the end of the scheme?

As well as gaining a signaller qualification, your different experiences on the scheme opens up opportunities across our business. After securing your initial Signalling role, the possibilities are endless. Hear from Owen, one of our ex-apprentices.

Owen Flanders, started his career as a signalling apprentice. He works on one of the most heavily-used freight paths in Britain, covering the mainline from London Liverpool Street to Norwich, which  enables  32 million passenger journeys a year. His work matters to millions.

Owen has worked his way up to a senior renewals and enhancements engineer, responsible for the signals and control systems across the route.

Owen, one of our previous apprentices, sat in an office

Owen also continued his education while climbing the career ladder. Network Rail funded his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Birmingham.

“I get to really make a difference to people’s journeys and to be part of the team responsible for making sure the signalling systems are working so passengers can get to where they need to be.

I’d encourage anyone who is leaving school or wants to change their career to think about an apprenticeship. It has given me a good knowledge of the job and has really helped me to get where I am now.”

How to apply

  • Application – completed on our career's portal, you'll need an up to date CV
  • Application questions – completed online, you'll need 10 minutes in a safe, quiet location where you’re comfortable to answer questions about your interest and understanding of the apprenticeship programme
  • Virtual assessment – you'll take part in in an online assessment which will include a Video interview to talk through your skills and experiences in more detail.
  • Pre-employment checks – As part of the virtual assessment, you’ll need to provide your documents to prove your identity and right to work in the UK – proof of address, driving licence and national insurance
  • Offer – you'll receive a call from our Careers Team to discuss further details including your medical declaration
  • Induction – you'll receive more information about your apprenticeship programme


Your well-being and the health and safety of our workforce is our top priority; we are following guidance from Public Health England and are taking extra precautions to reduce risk. This means all interviews and assessments will be held virtually.

Application advice

We want to see you at your best, so here are some tips to help you during the application process.

Application tips

Assessment centre tips

Interview tips

What is signalling?

Signalling is essentially a sophisticated traffic light system for the railway.

As a signaller at the end of your scheme, you’ll take great care to make sure trains travel safely and efficiently along your part of the network.

Signallers typically work within a signal box. The network runs day and night and so you’ll be comfortable working on a shift pattern basis to keep our passengers moving.

Whilst you’ll be part of a signal box team, you’ll also be comfortable with working on your own for long periods of time.

And when things do go wrong, you’ll use your training, problem solving skills and quick thinking to get our passengers moving safely onwards to their destination.

Watch the video to find out what signals do and how you could play a part as a Signaller in the running of Britain’s railway.

This scheme is now closed

We will update this page in advance of taking applications for our next intake.

Frequently asked questions

3rd January 2021.

You’ll need to be available to start the scheme on 1st March 2021.

You must be aged 18 or older on or before 1st March 2021. This is to ensure we comply with Health & Safety requirements and regulations around shift patterns and working at night for under-18s. There is no upper age limit for the programme.

Successful applicants will need to pay for their own travel to and from their work location (their signal box). For travel to other locations for purposes as part of your programme such as training in a training centre or placements, travel will be provided and accommodation where necessary.

Applicants don’t need to be able to drive but they will need to be able to get to their place of work – i.e. their signal box which can sometimes be in remote locations.  As such we recommend that you live within 60 minutes of your place of work during your application.

Successful completion of the apprenticeship programme provides eligibility for Associate level of membership with the Institution of Railway Operators.

If we offer you a place on the apprenticeship scheme, one of the conditions will be that you attend a medical. This is because you’ll be working in safety critical environments and it’s important we understand if there’s anything we need to know about to keep you safe.

The medical includes hearing and vision checks and you’ll be asked about any existing medical conditions or medication you’re taking. At the same time there are tests for drugs and alcohol.

We want to set you up for success on the programme as you’ll be studying at the same time as working. As such, we need you to have a high standard or written and verbal communication, as these are the foundations you’ll build on during your training.

If this is the case, you’ll discuss your options with your line manager.

What happens next will depend on the reason for failing, don’t worry we’re here to help you every step of the way!

This programme will allow you to gain an all rounded appreciation of operations in the Rail industry with an industry recognised qualification, so you’re well equipped on your career journey. You’ll have an industry recognised qualification, an Associate level of membership with the Institution of Railway Operators and be a qualified Signaller.

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