Join us for three fascinating, surprising and career-advancing years as an apprentice.
Expert training, earn while you learn and a lifetime of engineering possibilities. When you’re transforming Britain’s vast railway network, you’ll get more than just an education, you’ll gain the kind of skills that can set you up for life.
You'll have three amazing years on our apprenticeship scheme. The first phase of the apprenticeship programme will be mostly spent living and learning at one of our dedicated training centres. The rest of the scheme will be spent working from a depot close to home specialising in distribution and plant, overhead lines, signalling, telecoms, track or off track.
It’s the beginning of an epic career journey that can lead to varied career options. You'll have the chance to study for further qualifications and gain chartered membership of a professional engineering institute.
Whichever career path you follow, the first phase of the programme will be spent living and learning at one of our dedicated training centres; Westwood and HMS Sultan. Here you will develop the technical knowhow and leadership ability you’ll need for the many exciting challenges ahead. You'll be working towards an NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 Engineering Award, so there'll be a mix of academic work as well as hands-on practical experience.
- NVQ2 in Performing Engineering Operations
- Level 3 Engineering Award
Living away from home for the first time can be daunting. But as one of many apprentices, you won't be alone. You'll live and learn at one of our residential training centres.
You’ll be supported by the apprentice delivery team who have extensive experience in working with and developing apprentices, helping you to flourish. There are a few rules to keep everyone safe and to ensure consideration for others, but mostly you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, enjoy the sports and leisure facilities and have lots of fun.
During the residential phase you’ll be working to a busy training schedule, so we plan your leave for you, which includes long weekends and block periods over Christmas or Easter.
Whilst at Westwood we guarantee you won’t have time to feel bored or lonely as there’s a packed schedule including technical training, self-study and fitness activities. You’ll have access to the on-site facilities including the gym, swimming pool and squash court.
In the local area, you'll find shops, sporting activities and plenty of nightlife, so you’ll never be short of things to do! Previous apprentice intakes have arranged various charitable events throughout the local community including Tough Mudder, team marathons and charity car washes.
We’ll pay for your:
- Three meals a day
- Scheduled trips home
- Safety clothing and equipment
This is where you will join an engineering team at a depot close to home. You’ll get out and about on the network, learning alongside more experienced colleagues and applying the knowledge gained during Phase One 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 set up for a great future and career with Network Rail.
You'll also be working towards an NVQ Level 3 in railway engineering specific to your discipline. This involves a combination of rail-specific technical courses, work experience and formal assessments.
As part of the scheme you'll complete various other technical and leadership training modules at our engineering training centres around the country to prepare you for a career 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 been through the Apprenticeship Scheme themselves, so they're a great source of information and advice.
HMS Sultan in Gosport is the primary engineering training establishment for the Royal Navy and since 2005 has been the main location for training Network Rail’s Level 3 Engineering Apprentices. Here you will live alongside the Royal Navy and help to maintain the excellent relationship that Network Rail has built up with the Ministry of Defence over the last 14 years.
Network Rail’s Training Centre at HMS Sultan has bespoke training setups for Track, Signalling, Overhead Line, D&P and Telecoms and a team of experienced Workforce Development Specialists who will train you for your specific discipline over the course of the three year scheme. It is at HMS Sultan where you will gain competencies that give you the knowledge and authority to undertake tasks on the railway.
Through using this knowledge and implementing it on the railway infrastructure you will be in a position to achieve your NVQ Level 3 and be prepared for your End-Point Assessment.
Network Rail has its own accommodation block on the site where you will stay for the duration of your training, which is usually for 2 or 3 week visits, several times per class, depending on your discipline. You will have access to some of the Royal Navy’s facilities and events during your stay, such as; 24hr gym, fireworks displays, summer shows, pantomimes and Christmas meals, all dependant on when your training is scheduled.
You will live in shared dormitory bedrooms with other members of your class during these visits, further helping to instil in you the teamwork ethic that Network Rail thrives upon, but you will not be asked to share with people who you have never met before.
Gosport is just a short ferry ride from the bustling city of Portsmouth and just 30 minutes away from Southampton, so there is a variety of options of places to visit and see if you choose to stay during the weekends between your training courses.Over 3,000 apprentices have come through the Network Rail HMS Sultan Training Centre. Could you be the next?
Once you have finished the apprenticeship scheme, you will achieve the following qualifications:
- NVQ Level 3 in Railway Engineering
- Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3
But that’s not the end of it! You will continue to have career conversations to see how we can support your future aspirations. You could get the opportunity to study for a degree, gain professional accreditation or participate in further career development schemes, such as secondments or shadowing.
When we say the difference is you, we mean it! Many of our previous apprentices have held various 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
The role of the off-track function is extremely diverse and interesting. No day is the same. You will be responsible for the inspection, maintenance and renewal of level crossings, ensuring that the public interface with our railway infrastructure is safe for everyone. You’ll inspect and maintain fencing alongside our 20,000 miles of track to ensure that people and animals are kept a safe distance away from the infrastructure.
Drainage components underneath and alongside the track help to keep the track stable for our passengers. It would be your role as part of an off-track team to ensure that these drainage systems are working efficiently; responding appropriately when they’re not. Thousands of members of staff across the network require access to the railway in order to carry out vital inspections, critical maintenance and important repairs, so it’s crucial they have safe access points to do this.
Specialising in the off-track discipline, you will make sure these access points are kept in good order and always safe for our frontline staff to use.
Vegetation management is key to running a safe and efficient railway. As part of an off-track team you will be responsible for ensuring that all lineside vegetation is kept a safe distance from running trains.
On any day you could find yourself responding to incidents, dealing with public complaints, dealing with faults and close calls or carrying out vital maintenance work. All of these tasks require a unique skillset. 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 – 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.
We pay you £9,479 during your first year, plus £1,265 for successful completion.
In the second year, this rises to:
- Age 18 – 20: £12,525
- Age 21 – 24: £13,331.40
- Age 25+: £14,182.35
and £14,924.20 in the third year. During the first phase of the programme there will be a residential stay in Coventry.
During your residential stay we’ll pay for your accommodation, three meals a day (brunch and dinner on Sundays), your work clothing and personal safety equipment. On top of all this, you’ll get 36 days’ holiday, including bank holidays.
During the scheme, you can claim all our company benefits too, such as discounted train travel to and from work and a pension.
We also offer an inner London allowance of £3,100 per annum (for employees working at a 16 mile radius of Charing Cross) and outer London allowance of £1,800 per annum (for employees working at a Network Rail location over 16 miles and up to 40 miles from Charing Cross).
If you travel by train, we offer 75 per cent 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. Feel free to contact us with any questions using the contact details provided.
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?
Our apprenticeship scheme is very competitive – we receive a high number of applications each year. We’d love you to join us but there are some minimum requirements you must meet.
Before starting your application please read the following:
You will need to be available to start the scheme on 29 March 2020. All leave and holidays are scheduled by Network Rail during your residential phase Apprenticeship due to the workload involved in the technical training, but there will be planned leave over Easter as well as a scheduled long weekends.
You must be aged 18 on or before 29 March 2020, which is when the scheme will start. This is to ensure we are compliant 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.
These are outdoor roles that require a good level of physical fitness. We also have very rigorous safety standards for people who work on or near the track. We need to know if you have a medical condition or are taking medication that may cause any of the following:
- sudden loss of consciousness, awareness or concentration
- sudden incapacity
- temporary loss of vision or coordination and balance
If you have a known medical condition we’ll carry out a risk assessment so that we can, where possible, find a safe system of work for you.
If you are offered a place on the apprenticeship scheme, you’ll have a full medical exam, including sight and hearing checks. We’ll also ask your doctor for information on any existing medical condition, such as diabetes, or any medications you’re being prescribed.
As this is such a physically demanding job, it’s really important that you pass the medical examination, for the health and safety not only of yourself, but of those around you. So, unfortunately those who don’t pass won’t be able to take part in the apprenticeship.
If you fail to disclose anything at this stage, we’ll have to withdraw any offer we make.
In order for a candidate to be considered for entry to the Network Rail Apprenticeship Scheme they must hold the following Academic qualifications:
- GCSE English Language at Grade A*– C / 9 – 5 **
- GCSE Mathematics at Grade A*– C / 9 – 5
- GCSE Science at Grade A*– C / 9 – 5 Or NVQ or BTEC Level 2 or above in an Engineering subject
- One other GCSE in any subject at Grade A*– C / 9 – 5
*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
Candidates can be considered for the Scheme if they hold equivalent qualifications to GCSEs at Level 2 or above.
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 National 5 or Scottish Standard 1-3
- 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 show us the original certificates if possible. We can accept the statement of results letter you received from your school or college on results day providing they show actual results. Unfortunately, we cannot accept predicted results. If you need replacement certificates or a statement of results certificate, please contact the relevant exam board as soon as possible as the process can take several weeks. Your school or college will tell you who to contact.
If you gained your qualifications abroad: we will need a NARIC translation of your exam results before we can process your application. You can get one from www.naric.org.uk but please contact them as soon as possible as the process can take several weeks.
If you are currently in the process of sitting your exams:
You can still apply – however, you will need to contact us when results are announced to confirm that you have achieved the minimum grade in the subjects required. Any offer made in these circumstances will be subject to meeting our minimum academic requirements.
You’ll need to upload a copy of your exam certificates with your application form (including UK NARIC translation of any qualifications gained overseas) and show us the original certificates when you come for the assessment centre.
Ready to make an epic career choice?
If the above sounds like you, then you can apply for our engineering apprenticeship now. You can also visit our application process and advice pages, where you’ll find help and tips for every stage of the application.
Applications for the March 2020 intake are now closed. However, we will be accepting applications for the September 2020 intake in early January. Sign up below to be kept up-to-date with the latest information on our apprenticeship schemes as well receiving hints, tips and much more!
- How to ace your apprenticeship application brochure
- Parents’ guide to the engineering apprenticeship scheme brochure