Wednesday 3 Feb 2010


Region & Route:
Southern: Wessex
| Southern

Aspiring engineers in Berkshire are being urged not to miss out on a coveted place on Network Rail’s award-winning apprenticeship scheme.

The scheme recruits over 200 young people each year and applications for places starting this September are flooding in – but there are still vacancies in the Berkshire area.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week (1-5 Feb) and Network Rail is encouraging both men and women to get on track for an exciting and challenging career on the railway.

Bill Alexander, national apprentice manager for Network Rail, says: “This is an exciting time to start at Network Rail with so many opportunities for both men and women to be part of our railway revolution. Our apprentices will become the backbone of our company. We will give them the skills to build a challenging career in an industry that looks after three million people a day and is vital to the economy.”

In their first year, apprentices are based at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Gosport, Hampshire, where they share facilities with the Royal Navy. They can take advantage of state-of-the-art recreation and sports facilities including a gym, swimming pool, squash courts, playing fields, outdoor tennis courts, water sports and other organised activities. Apprentices spend their second and third years at their designated local depot, learning on the job with experienced teams.

Andrew Green, 19, from Newbury joined Network Rail’s advanced apprenticeship scheme in 2008. Now in his second year, Andrew is based at Reading depot where he is specialising in signalling. Andrew reveals what’s the best thing about the apprenticeship scheme:

“When I’ve finished a shift and am sat drinking a mug of coffee with my team, I like to remember the new things that I have learnt that day and this fills me with a great sense of achievement. The next day, I wake up already thirsty for that sense of achievement. The scheme promotes self-confidence and pride and had a sponge-like effect allowing me to absorb lots of new information. I’ve transferred this way of working to every other aspect of my life.

"The best thing about the apprenticeship scheme is the whole feeling I gain from being a part of it. Feeling valid within my team, the pride I take in the work that I do, the praise I receive for the effort I put in, being recognised within my depot as a significant part of the Network Rail machine, the new skills I learn every day and finally, how every aspect of my career can be used in my everyday life.”

Anyone interested is encouraged to visit the website where they can find out more about the scheme, watch a video of two of Network Rail’s first year apprentices and see profiles of current apprentices who talk about what they get out of the scheme.

Notes to editors

About the 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 & 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.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

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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