Network Rail’s 3000th apprentice takes up his station at Suffolk signal box: image00003

Wednesday 2 Jun 2021

Network Rail’s 3000th apprentice takes up his station at Suffolk signal box

Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia

Signalling apprentice, Thomas Briggs, based at Saxmundham in Suffolk, has become Network Rail’s 3000th apprentice since the apprenticeship levy launched in April 2017. The levy was introduced by the government to fund new apprenticeships, creating opportunities for school leavers like Thomas and helping to develop the existing workforce.

This month (June), Thomas started as part of a pilot for the brand-new Level 2 Rail Infrastructure Operator apprenticeship where he will learn all he needs to become a signaller and succeed in a career in operations. Signallers operate the points and signals from a signal box to control the safe movement of trains across the rail network.

Since the inception of the levy, Network Rail’s annual apprenticeship intake has grown threefold, with over 800 apprentices starting across nearly 50 different apprenticeships, from data analyst to civil engineer.

Thomas, said: “I’m privileged to be part of this new scheme. Knowing there are thousands of apprentices before me leading the way gives me real confidence. This apprenticeship has given me an alternative to university and the associated debt, so I’m very grateful for the levy and how it’s helping people like me join the railway. The average age of a signaller is 45, so I’m excited to see what opportunities arise in the future and how I can help the railway recover from the pandemic.

“My mum works on the railway as a stations operations specialist and she’s been a big influence on my decision to join Network Rail. She’s always spoken so highly of the organisation and the way they take care of you. My sister and brother-in-law also worked for Network Rail so we’re fast becoming a new railway family.”

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “Signallers are vital to the safe and reliable running of passenger and freight services across the network. This new apprenticeship will help to build resilience and help us to meet demand for signallers in the Anglia region.

“Our engineering apprenticeship has proven to be really successful and I hope this new apprenticeship focussing on the operation of the railway inspires even more people to consider a career in the industry.”

More information about apprenticeships can be found at

Notes to Editors

The full title of the new apprenticeship is Level 2 Rail Infrastructure Operations apprenticeship

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 - Katie Mack
Media relations manager (Anglia route)
020 3356 2515

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.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: