EAST ANGLIA RAIL APPRENTICES HIT THE TRACK RUNNING: Network Rail apprentices Luke Boggis and Aaron Gould, Ipswich and Norwich

Monday 11 Jul 2011


Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

Nearly 200 apprentices have started work at Network Rail depots across Britain after completing their first year at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire.

The apprentices specialise in track, signalling, telecoms and electrification and plant. Over the next two years they will work under supervision gaining vital experience as they train to become maintenance technicians. They will return to HMS Sultan for further courses and training throughout this time.

Steve Featherstone, director of maintenance at Network Rail, said: "Getting out on the railway, learning on the job, responding to incidents and gaining experience from our specialists is a vital part of our apprenticeship scheme. Every day, our apprentices will be part of a team making sure we get three million people to work and home again. It’s rewarding and of great value to Britain.

“The railway is becoming ever more popular and we have big plans for making it more reliable, efficient and better value for money; our apprentices will play a big role in that.”

He added: “We now have the building blocks in place so that beyond their apprenticeships, our engineers can undertake an HNC, a foundation degree and then a full degree in engineering. They can earn while they learn and go as far as their aptitude, attitude and ambition can take them.”

Luke Boggis, 19, from Ipswich is a Network Rail apprentice based in his home town of Ipswich, specialising in track. Luke comments on why he joined the scheme:

“I was always very interested in getting myself into engineering but felt I wanted to keep learning at a high level coming fresh out of college, whether it be university or an apprenticeship. The Network Rail scheme ticked all the right boxes and knew this was the best option for me with the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications whilst receiving a fair wage.

"Being away from home was one of the hardest things but it has changed me for the better. Meeting new people and making mates for life is a great feeling. These factors added into my work at Sultan gave me confidence and a good motive to work in and around an engineering environment. I’ve picked up vital communication skills which are necessary for me to be an effective team member.

“As a track apprentice I was invited to Ffestiniog in north Wales to carry out some works on a heritage railway. This gave us all important experience and basics of the railway environment, whilst picking up valuable tips from the experienced track engineers. I am excited about the future as there are endless prospects and the railway is ever-changing so there is always more to learn.”

Aaron Gould, 21, is a Network Rail apprentice based in his home city of Norwich, specialising in telecoms. Aaron comments on why he joined the scheme:

“I decided that I wanted a career rather than just a job. I have a keen interest in engineering so an apprenticeship with Network Rail seemed perfect for me. After researching the scheme it soon become clear that it is the best apprenticeship around, the sheer amount of support Network Rail provides is unbelievable.

“Since being on the course, I have learnt to stand on my own two feet. Along with this I have worked towards gaining a leadership qualification which will help me no end, as well as numerous BTEC and NVQ qualifications. Outside of work there are plenty of games, competitions, activities and groups that you can get involved with, there is always something going on.”

Notes to editors

196 people have completed their first year of the Network Rail Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme this year.

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: http://careers.networkrail.co.uk/apprentices for more information on Network Rail's advanced apprentice scheme

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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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