Monday 5 Jul 2010


Region & Route:
| Eastern

More than 200 apprentices have started work for real at railway depots across Britain after completing their first year at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire. Track apprentice Grant Hobbs from St Neots is on of six second-year apprentices now working at Network Rail’s Bedford depot.

Network Rail apprentices specialise in track, signalling and telecomms, electrification and plant, property works and mechanical locking. They will work under supervision in teams gaining vital experience over the next two years as they train to become maintenance technicians. They will return to HMS Sultan for further courses and training throughout this time.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail route infrastructure maintenance director, said: “Britain relies on rail so it is vital to invest in our people and our future with apprenticeships. We’re training the next generation of specialists with the latest technology to deliver this success in a modern, efficient way – it’s a career that brings great value to Britain.

“Learning on-the-job with experienced teams enables our apprentices to understand the industry and their role far better than they can in just a classroom. Once the training is complete, they are already an important team member helping to deliver a better railway for everyone.”

Grant Hobbs, a 19-year-old track apprentice based at Bedford depot, reveals why he joined Network Rail’s advanced apprenticeship scheme: “The best thing about the apprenticeship scheme is the fact that I am acquiring recognised qualifications whilst I train.

“I chose this scheme because it was a direct route into a career in engineering. It also offered me the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications, whilst living away from home and gaining independence. Network Rail is an exciting business and the opportunities to develop are vast.”

Notes to editors

About the Network Rail Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme
A three-year programme that equips you with the skills and experience to become a maintenance engineering technician. One of the first things you need to do is decide which area of engineering you want to focus on.

There are seven engineering programmes: track, signals, electrification and plant, signal design, property works, mechanical locking 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 your first year, you will be paid £8,400 + £1,150 when you 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 you, pay for your accommodation and provide the clothing and personal protective equipment that you need – including safety boots, cargo trousers and a fleece. There are plenty of holidays: 28 days plus bank holidays in total. Again in your first year, your leave is planned for you and Network Rail will pay for you to travel home for long weekends and Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.

After three years, you 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 ability.

Visit: for more information on Network Rail's advanced apprentice scheme.

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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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