Our general management scheme for graduates

Who you are

You’re a people person with a creative flair for solving problems. With excellent analytical skills, you’re adept at understanding and interpreting data and presenting it in a clear, informative way. You’ll demonstrate the leadership skills, drive and determination of a future senior manager. You’re flexible and prepared to move around the organisation, grasping every opportunity to develop yourself and your career.

How long is the scheme?

One year

Where you’ll be based

Opportunities are available across Britain, at locations including: Birmingham, Cardiff, Derby, Glasgow, London, Manchester, the Midlands, Milton Keynes, Swindon, York, Basingstoke, Plymouth, Didcot, Bristol, Singewell

What you’ll be doing

Roles are available in route businesses, supply chain operations, safety, technical and engineering (STE), and digital railway. You’ll experience the full spectrum of operational route activities through a series of placements, giving you real first-hand experience of how the railway is run as a business.

In route businesses you’ll cover the four main areas of railway operations. You’ll experience key customer and supplier relationships with train and freight operating companies, understand the complex nature of the railway, and find out exactly what it takes to get passengers to their destination safely and on time. Find out more about our routes.

Working in STE, you’ll help deliver a safer, better performing and more efficient railway through placements in risk, business management/quality, and research, development and technology. You might spend time working in a managed station, and will gain specialist knowledge of our functions and the wider business.

In supply chain operations you’ll be involved in supplier meetings, coordinating feedback, resolving issues, producing performance reports and scoping out new projects. Placement opportunities include haulage trains, road fleet, on track machines and materials.

If you end up working in digital railway you could help shape the future of Britain’s railways. You’ll contribute to exciting innovative projects and help develop and implement new technologies so that trains can run closer together without supervision.

Entry requirements

2:2 in any degree subject

What opportunities are available at the end of the scheme?

Previous graduates have gone on to management roles in a number of functions, including Safety, HR, Station Management, Performance, Finance and Operations.

Why you should choose this scheme

This is a flexible scheme that enables you to choose placements based on your interests and ambitions. Throughout the year, you’ll gain a great all-round knowledge of how Network Rail works, opening up a variety of opportunities for your future career with us.

View our application process

Network Rail is an incredible place to work, something I didn’t quite appreciate before joining. Whatever your strengths and passions, there will be a job for you somewhere on the railway. The variety and breadth of what we do means there is always something new to try and difficult challenges to resolve.
The comradery and teamwork within the industry is impressive and endeared me to the company during the interview process. One of the unique things about working for a public company is the great sense that everyone is working for the betterment of the railway network rather than the benefit of shareholders or the stock market.

Rory Jee

How would you describe the breadth of Network Rail's work and the breadth of our opportunities for graduates?

At Network Rail there is an incredible variety of opportunities for graduates, ranging from different placements within Operations (Stations, Maintenance etc) to other areas of the business, including Strategic Planning, Human Resources, Commercial and Route Enhancements. As Network Rail is such a large and diverse company you can try your hand at anything, depending on whether the department you want to spend time with has the resources to look after you and keep you busy over the period of time you want to spend with them.

The placements you are interested in do need to be discussed with your line manager first, but most will be happy for you to take charge of your own placements based on your interests.

How varied have you found your role at Network Rail?

My role has been very varied within Operations, but I have not seen much outside Operations. However within Operations I have spent time with Stations, Local Operations Managers, Rosters, Maintenance, Mobile Operations Managers, the Emergency Incidence Unit, Safety team, Commercial team and Performance, to name a few. I have managed to learn a lot from the different departments – they are all willing to show graduates what they do and give them opportunities and projects.

What's the most exciting work you've done here?

The best project I have worked on so far is a ‘delay attribution project’ in Sussex, where I'm based. I was given a lot of responsibility to spearhead the project, which involved finding out why so many delay minutes were being attributed to signallers in Sussex (suggesting that they are making more mistakes than other routes, which we have seen isn’t the case) and finding a way of changing the way delay minutes are attributed, if the current process wasn’t working. It was great to be able to speak to a wide range of people across Operations, including Local Operations Managers, Shift Signalling Managers, Signallers, Train Delay Attribution Clerks, Operations Managers and the Performance Team.

I wrote a report detailing my findings and managed to make the Performance team aware of the issues. Working together we were able to get a new policy briefed out to the teams, which significantly cut our delay minutes.

What's been the best thing for you?

The best thing for me about the Network Rail graduate scheme is the amount of opportunities, and the time and money invested in you to make you a better manager.

We have ongoing training throughout the scheme, which is taught in five modules over two years at Westwood, a state-of-the-art facility in Coventry. We also have the opportunity to go to signalling school in York, which is extremely useful if you see a future in Operations. It gives you a detailed view into how the railway is run from the bottom up.

As a graduate you are also free to choose training courses that you are particularly interested in to attend. The flexibility and freedom you are given to develop yourself, as well as the structured training, is what has made my time at Network Rail so enjoyable.

Why Network Rail?

I originally joined because I knew it was a good graduate scheme with excellent benefits, and I also had some idea of its importance to Britain’s economy and people’s daily lives. However, after working here you realise just how important the work we do is, and how complex and varied the company is as a whole.

You are guaranteed to find something that you are interested in during your time on the graduate scheme, and you are able to get involved in a diverse range of projects that can make a real difference to Network Rail. Also, the general atmosphere of the company is very friendly and flexible, which is a big plus.

How would you describe the breadth of Network Rail's work and the breadth of our opportunities for graduates?

What immediately struck me upon joining Network Rail was the sheer breadth of activities it undertakes on a daily basis. In very few businesses are there so many opportunities available to you so early on in your career. From people to project management, electrical engineering to property purchase and negotiation, you really are able to define your own direction.

The graduate scheme gave me brilliant exposure to many different business functions across Network Rail and allowed me to quickly understand my strengths and weaknesses, as well as the aspects of the business I really enjoyed.

Whatever career or direction you might think you’re interested in when you apply, I doubt very much it will be the same once you’ve completed the scheme and that, for me, is its strength.

How varied have you found your role at Network Rail?

The general management scheme gave me a great breadth of experience, very quickly. It was really up to me to decide what placements to pursue and which areas of the business truly interested me. Whether you want to spend time on the front-line seeing how maintenance engineers work tirelessly to ensure the trains keep running or spend time with strategy managers who decide where to invest in new infrastructure and capability, the general management scheme allows you to do both.

I spent time with Operations and Control, worked with the Change team to implement new technologies and methods of working, and worked on projects that will deliver new station platforms and train services in the future.

My new role in the Route Enhancements function promises to be varied and exciting as I begin work on projects that will deliver tangible benefits to Britain’s railway with, of course, all the challenges that come along with it.

What's the most exciting work you've done here?

I’ve been involved with many projects during my graduate year. The challenge of constructing two new platforms at Liverpool Street station to allow for additional train services in the future was certainly high-profile. A heavily used commuter station in the heart of the City of London, Liverpool Street station’s location would present various construction challenges in building additional platforms.

Going on a site visit and introducing the proposal to key stakeholders was an exciting and responsible experience. Working with engineers to define the constraints and integrating the project with a potential wider redevelopment of the Liverpool Street concourse was eye-opening and made me understand just how complicated and intricate the railway can be.

What's been the best thing for you?

Being able to better my understanding of the railway as a system has been a fantastic experience. From regular commuters, to family day-trippers, we all know the railway moves millions of people every single day, but I didn’t truly appreciate how much freight is moved by rail: from the raw materials such as coal, that ultimately help keep the lights on, to a lot of the products we see in supermarkets and department stores. Without the railway our roads would be clogged to breaking point.

Why Network Rail?

Network Rail is an incredible place to work, something I didn’t quite appreciate before joining. Whatever your strengths and passions, there will be a job for you somewhere on the railway. The variety and breadth of what we do means there is always something new to try and difficult challenges to resolve.

The comradery and teamwork that goes on within the industry is impressive and endeared me to the company during the interview process. One of the unique things about working for a public company is the great sense that everyone is working for the betterment of the railway network rather than the benefit of shareholders or the stock market.