Join us for three fascinating, surprising and career-advancing years as an apprentice.
Your journey starts here. An Engineering Apprenticeship with Network Rail is the first step into an exciting career in the Rail industry. As part of our team, you’ll help shape national projects, embrace the latest tech and learn the skills to succeed.
Three years. Expert training. Real experience. Earn while you learn.
Our apprenticeship programme offers a mix of online learning and residential stays at our training centres.
After an initial residential stay, you’ll join a depot close to home where you’ll specialise in distribution and plant, overhead lines, signalling, telecoms or track. You’ll be surrounded by experts, who’ll help you learn every day, then when you start to develop your skills, you’ll be able to look at a variety of career options. And even move on to further qualifications and gain chartered membership of a professional engineering institute.
Whichever career path you follow, the first phase of the programme will be a mix of time spent living and learning at our dedicated training centre Westwood, online learning, time at your depot and time and time at regional training centres.
As you'll be working towards an NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 Engineering Award, there'll be an interesting mix of academic work as well as hands-on practical experience.
A friendly community with a vibrant social scene and support everywhere you turn. We understand living away from home for the first time can be daunting. But it’s a fantastic experience that hundreds of apprentices like you enjoy every year.
Our apprentice delivery team is on hand to help you every step of the way, from initial worries to training tips and the best places to eat in the local area. They’ve seen it all before, so if you have any concerns whatsoever, they’ll get you back on track in no time.
Of course, we have are a few rules to keep everyone safe and keep everyone happy. Nothing too strict. Mostly you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, play some sports (if that’s your thing) or just enjoy the leisure facilities and have lots of fun.
The residential phase will be a busy time for you, but you’ll have time to relax too (including some long weekends). Your leave will be planned in advance and we’ll give you your holiday schedule during your first week, so you’ll know exactly when you’ll be working and when you’ll have free time to enjoy yourself.
And don’t worry about feeling bored or lonely. You’ll always have something to do, with a packed schedule including technical training, self-study and fitness activities. Plus, access to some great on-site facilities including the gym, swimming pool and squash court.
And you can always see what the local area has to offer, from shops and sporting activities to plenty of nightlife. Previous apprentices have even arranged various charitable events including Tough Mudder, team marathons and charity car washes. At Westwood, there’s so much to enjoy, and you won’t have to look far to find it.
You won’t need to worry about any fees either, we’ll pay for your:
- Three meals a day
- Scheduled trips home
- Safety clothing and equipment
After your residential phase, you’ll take your place in an engineering team at a depot close to home. This will be your chance to get out and about on the network, learning alongside more experienced colleagues and applying the everything you’ve learned so far to real life engineering tasks.
There's lots to take in and a lot of responsibility to take on. By the end of the three years, you'll be all set for a great future and career with Network Rail.
As part of the scheme you'll complete lots of technical and leadership training modules at our regional engineering training centres. These will equip you with the skills to take your career further and thrive at the top of your profession.
Your classes will be taught by a team of experienced rail engineers and professional trainers. Some of them have even been through the Apprenticeship Scheme themselves, so they're a great source of information and advice.
Each of our training centres provides bespoke training specific to a variety of disciplines, ranging from Track, Signalling and Overhead Line to Distribution & Plant and Telecoms. And our experienced Workforce Development Specialists help you hone your skills over the course of the three year scheme.
After gaining both theoretical knowledge and practical experience on the railway infrastructure you’ll be ready to achieve your NVQ Level 3 and complete your End-Point Assessment.
Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship scheme, you’ll achieve the following qualifications:
- NVQ Level 3 in Railway Engineering
- Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3
- Completion of level 3 Rail engineering technician apprenticeship
But this is only the beginning. You’ll continue to have career conversations to see how we can help you to set and achieve your future goals. This might be studying for a degree, gaining professional accreditation or participating in further career development schemes, such as secondments or shadowing.
Many of our apprentices go on to hold senior positions within Network Rail; these roles include Programme Managers, Principal Engineers and Maintenance Delivery Managers.
Your Career Path
Whichever career path you choose, you’ll be working to transform our vast network of rail, lineside access points, 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 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 recruitment team will identify the most suitable discipline for you, based on your strengths.
As a track apprentice you will be responsible for maintaining, inspecting and repairing the track network, (also known as the Permanent Way or P-Way) to keep 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 or maintenance grades. It's an all-weather, around-the-clock job, so you’ll be out days, nights and at the weekends. It's this kind of challenge which our apprentices enjoy the most. You'll need a keen eye for detail to identify any work needed to keep the track fit for trains to run on and to ensure first line response to dangers on the network like derailments and line blockages.
Working on track often involves making judgments based on experience and know-how, but you'll also find yourself tackling new problems, so teamwork is essential 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. What starts out as a labour-intensive role can set up a track apprentice to work in areas of track design to project leadership. 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
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 – in the event that the wires are brought down, the trains stop. 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
When someone mentions a Railway Network what comes to mind? Most people automatically think of stations, points, signals, power and obviously track and trains. There is another network – a Telecoms Network of thousands of points of presence across the country normally adjacent the railway infrastructure connecting Railway Operational Control centres to the railway infrastructure.
The Telecom Network for the most part unseen to the untrained eye has a vital role to play in connecting elements from other disciplines necessary to run an efficient and safe railway – and is not just telephones!
The Telecom Network has utilised radio and digital communications systems over fibre optic cables for many years, however the Telecoms Network is constantly evolving as new Ethernet technologies are introduced into railway systems nationwide to support an enormous growth of Telecoms Network capacity. Modern, highly reliable communications systems are pivotal to running a safe and efficient modern railway.
During your apprenticeship you'll work remotely with a telecoms Network Management Centre and experienced and competent technicians on site in equipment rooms and trackside as required to support a wide range of telecommunications systems. This includes copper and fibre optic cables, SDH transmission and Ethernet router systems, GSM track to train radio and other modern IP based voice and data systems and yes, some telephones. However reliable the equipment, failures do occur, and a qualified telecommunication technician role does include an on-call commitment for response to out of hours urgent failures and maintenance.
From overhead lines and conductor rails to standby generators and lineside equipment including drainage pumps, switch heaters and domestic supplies; 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.
As an apprentice you'll work as part of a team to keep power flowing through the electrified rails safely and efficiently. Day to day you’ll work on the nuts, bolts and cables 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 systems with supplies as low as 50 Volts up to and above systems with 33,000 Volts; 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 power outage occurs you will use your skill, knowledge and training to identify the fault and restore service.
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!
Engineering apprentice: Jess
Salary and benefits
An apprenticeship means the chance to earn a real wage while you learn.
Currently the salary in the first year is £10,609.
You will also be eligible for a payment of £1,347 on successfully completing the first year.
The salary in the second year increases to;
- Age 18 – 20: £13, 625 per annum*
- Age 21 – 24: £14,924 per annum*
- Age 25+: £15,870 per annum*
The salary in the third year increases to £16,054 per annum*.
*subject to change
During the scheme, you can claim all our company benefits too, such as;
Employees working at a location within a 16 mile radius of Charing Cross are eligible for an inner London allowance of £3,100 per annum.
Employees working at a location 16 miles and up to 40 miles from Charing Cross are eligible for outer London allowance of £1,800 per annum.
If you travel by train, you’ll be eligible for 75% discount on annual season tickets up to a maximum of £3,660 in addition to an interest-free season ticket loan.
We’re proud to offer a range of pension schemes which provide flexibility and choice for our employees. Most new employees are eligible to join either the NRDC defined contribution scheme, or the NR CARE Scheme, our career average scheme which is a type of defined benefit arrangement. After five years’ continuous company service you become eligible to join the defined benefit Network Rail section of the Railways Pension Scheme, unless you are eligible when you start employment.
You can find detailed information about our schemes at www.myNRpension.co.uk.
Find a depot near you
Following the first phase of the scheme, you will join your local depot. This is where you will be based for the remainder of the programme with the exception of further training courses.
When you apply, we will consider you for vacancies at depots within 60 minutes travel time of your current home address. If you wish to be considered for a different geographical area, you’ll have the option of letting us know during your application.
Want to apply?
Think you’ve got what it takes to thrive in the Rail industry? Our apprenticeship scheme gets a high number of applications each year, so there are some minimum requirements you’ll need to meet to apply:
You’ll need to be available to start the scheme on 27 March 2021.
All leave and holidays are scheduled by Network Rail during your initial phase due to the scheduling of the technical training, but there will be planned leave as well as scheduled long weekends.
You must be aged 18 on or before 27 March 2021, which is when the scheme will start.
Phase one of your training is a blend of 10 weeks online training and residential stays. The residential training will be organised in clusters for several weeks at a time
Training will be Monday to Friday 08:15 – 16:15 (some evenings you may be required to work later)
Saturdays and Sundays are your own time, where you can travel back home at your own expense if you wish.
Phase two of your apprenticeship will last approximately 2.5 years, with completion being in March 2024. During this time you’ll have scheduled periods of training at Westwood and our regional training centres closer to your home depot.
Please note if you’re not able to commit to this programme we’ll be unable to accept your application.
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. We’ll also give you special training to keep you and those you work with safe and you’ll need a medical before you’re allowed to do the training.
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. If we make you an offer we’ll send you information about Network Rail’s policy as it’s important you understand the expectations.
Medicals are conducted for us by our Healthcare partner and you’ll be asked to attend somewhere local. It’s completely confidential and the outcome will be discussed with you. Nothing is shared without your permission.
Wherever possible we try to accommodate any restrictions or adjustments that are advised as a result of the medical but occasionally this isn’t possible and we aren’t able to continue with the offer.
To be considered for our Apprenticeship Scheme you must hold the following Academic qualifications or their recognised equivalents:
- GCSE English Language at Grade A*– C / 9 – 4 **
- GCSE Mathematics at Grade A*– C / 9 – 5
- GCSE Science at Grade A*– C / 9 – 4 Or NVQ or BTEC Level 2 or above in an Engineering subject
- One other GCSE in any subject at Grade A*– C / 9 – 4
*Please note that NVQ or BTEC Level 1 in an Engineering subject will not meet the required Standard
**English Literature will only be accepted as an additional qualification
Functional Skills Level 2 in Maths and English will be accepted. All 3 parts in English must be completed. We cannot accept just English Reading or Writing.
The following qualifications are acceptable as equivalents (or above) to GCSEs:
- Scottish Credit standard grade levels 1-2
- A Level at Grade A – E
- AS Level at Grade A – E
- O Level at Grade A – C
- IGCSE at Grade A – C
(These must include English, Maths and Science or Engineering)
To satisfy the requirement for ‘one other GCSE in any subject at Grade A* – C’ any of the following qualifications at pass level or above (merit or distinction) will be accepted:
- QCF Functional Skills Level 2
- NQF Key Skills Level 2 or above
- NQF Higher Diploma
- NVQ Level 2 or above
- QCF Certificate and Diploma at Level 2 or above
- BTEC Award, Certificate or Diploma at Level 2 or above
We will accept the equivalent qualifications from all of the UK countries. Please refer to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education's guide to comparing qualifications in the UK.
You must be able to show us the original certificates or verified statement of results when we ask for them during the application process. Your school or college will tell you who to contact if you need to obtain replacements. We can’t accept predicted results.
If you gained your qualifications outside the UK we’ll need a NARIC translation of your exam results. You can get one from www.naric.org.uk
If you are currently sitting your exams:
You can apply – however, when you get your results we’ll need you confirm your results meet the requirements.
If the above sounds like you, then apply for our Level 3 engineering apprenticeship scheme now.
You can also visit our application process and advice pages, where you’ll find help and tips for every stage of the application.