Apprentices join the front line in the East Midlands to deliver £38bn railway upgrade plan: Nichola Wright-2

Wednesday 24 Jun 2015

Apprentices join the front line in the East Midlands to deliver £38bn railway upgrade plan

Region & Route:
| Eastern

A total of 37 new apprentices have joined railway maintenance teams in the North East, East Midlands and South East to start their on-the-job training after successfully completing their first year of the award-winning Network Rail Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme.

They are among almost 200 apprentices across Britain who have recently finished their first year of training at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Gosport, Hampshire. There apprentices specialise in track, signalling, telecoms and electrification. During their second and third years they continue to earn while they learn and experience work on the rail network’s front line, gaining vital experience as they train to become maintenance technicians. Throughout this time they regularly return to HMS Sultan for further courses and training.

Neal Lawson, maintenance and operations services director at Network Rail, said: “We are investing £38bn building a better railway for Britain and to meet this challenge, we need highly capable people. By developing the enthusiasm and talent of our apprentices, we are creating the skilled workforce vital to our future success. I wish all of them good luck as they continue to build their skills and knowledge and help us move more than four million people across Britain every day.”

Nichola Wright is a signalling apprentice who started in September 2014 and who has just joined her team in Grantham. She is enjoying learning from employees who do the job day-in-day-out, while her dad is also a signaller at Network Rail. 

As soon as she heard about the opportunity to study with Network Rail she wanted to sign up because engineering and science are her passions and because she was concerned about the lack of graduate jobs available after university. She said: “I love working for company that is such an integral part of what keeps the country moving.”

Network Rail’s Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme is open to applicants over 17 years of age and has no upper age limit. Apprentices come from all over the nation and range from those who have just left school or college to those changing careers. All share an interest in engineering.

As John Cheasley, a 30-year-old third-year apprentice from Petersfield, Hampshire says: “It’s a nice job and one where you can actually feel proud of yourself and know that you children will be proud of you in the future. This has changed my life and shown me my potential.” 

Notes to editors

About the Network Rail advanced apprenticeship scheme:

It is a three-year programme that equips you with the skills and experience to become a maintenance engineering technician.

There are five engineering programmes: track, signals, electrification and plant, signal design and telecoms. Each one gives you the chance to work in a critical area of the business, where your development will continue beyond the three years of the scheme.

Paid learning:

In the first year, apprentices will be paid £8,400 + £1,150 when they successfully finish the year; the salary will rise to £11,750 in the second; and £14,000 in the third.

In the first year, Network Rail will also feed, pay for accommodation and provide the clothing and personal protective equipment that they need. There are plenty of holidays: 28 days plus bank holidays. Network Rail will pay for apprentices to travel home for long weekends and Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.


After three years, apprentices will have the qualifications (NVQ, BTec and ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management)) and skills to develop a long-term career with Network Rail. Many apprentices complete their first year and soon start to think about their career options – and many set their sights on becoming technical officers, team leaders or managers. There are even further opportunities to study a foundation degree for those who demonstrate the commitment and

Contact information

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Network Rail press office - Toby Higgins
Senior Communications Manager (Transpennine Upgrade)
Network Rail
01904 383180 / 07850 406724

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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