How to get a Railway Apprenticeship (2023)

Becoming a railway apprentice.

Every year the UK rail service is responsible for over 1.3 billion journeys. Unsurprisingly, this huge infrastructure requires constant maintenance, improvement, and innovation. It is also an industry with a long history of exciting and well-paid apprenticeships.

The rail industry relies heavily on the engineers and project managers that keep it on the tracks. There are also opportunities throughout the businesses that allow Britain’s trains to operate; including design, transportation, technology, and people management.

Destination: apprenticeships.

Network Rail

Network Rail is a staple of the industry and a big employer of apprentices in the sector.

As an employer, they boast a very competitive apprenticeship scheme, with a high amount of applicants each year. The scheme is very well regarded for its training and compensation structure, both within the rail industry and engineering sector more generally.

Their level 3 engineering apprenticeship get to team up with experienced engineers at one of our depots, so they can learn what goes into keeping thousands of miles of power lines and tracks up and running, and fit for use. 

  • You need be aged 18 or over on or before 27 March 2023 to apply for this scheme.
  • Your salary in the first year is  £10,609, plus a £1,347 payment for successfully completing year one. Your salary will rise year on year to £17,290 in the third year.
  • The scheme lasts for three years.

Colas Rail

Colas Rail primarily employs Rail Engineers and Project Managers. Their ultimate focus is closing the skills gap that exists within the rail industry. To do this, they offer a number of advanced and higher apprenticeships, including Track Technicians, Signalling Technicians, and Apprentice Supervisors.

They also recruit regularly for apprentice train drivers.

Colas has a number of interesting apprentice roles in the rail sector. Recruitment for 2023 is open now!


GWR offers award-winning railway apprenticeships in a number of key areas, including operations, engineering, and management.

GWR apprenticeships boast dedicated mentors and intensive on-the-job training to get you ready to succeed as soon as possible. Apprentices can expect to see themselves earning a level 2 or level 3 qualification, depending on the learning track they choose.

You can apply for GWR jobs via their careers page.

GTR (ThamesLink, Great Northern and Southern)

GTR apprentices cover all of the vacancies across ThamesLink, Great Northern and Southern lines.

This is a great way to check opportunities all in one place and get a good idea about the seasonality of job postings. These vacancies are primarily engineering apprenticeships.

Apprenticing with GTR offers a number of benefits. A starting salary of at least £14,000, yearly pay increase based on completing the academic year, and 24 days’ holiday(plus bank holidays).

Vacancies are updated regularly to see keep an eye on the careers page.

East Midlands Trains

East Midlands Trains is dedicated to life long learning.

As well as a regular apprenticeship intake, they also offer a level 3 and level 5 management qualification. This fully-funded training scheme helps you advance through the railway ranks faster.

East Midlands receive great praise from former and current apprentices, marking it as a workplace where no two days are the same, but where every day is rewarding.

You can visit their career page or search the Gov database to find all of the latest vacancies.

Transport for Wales

Transport for Wales advertises all of their vacancies via This handy portal allows you to search vacancies across engineering, customer service and train driving.

There are often trainee jobs available (equivalent to apprenticeships), however, there is no dedicated window so check back often to find the best jobs.


Transport for London (TFL) has been really ramping up its apprentice operations in the last few years, and now offer tonnes of exciting and varied railway apprenticeship roles.

TFL also have the breadth of opportunities to allow apprentices in at every level of qualification, offering advanced, higher, and even degree level apprenticeships.

Working in either the business, engineering, or technology streams, apprentices can expect to spend 20% of their time working towards an industry-recognised professional qualification. They will also develop quickly through practical experience.

MTR Crossrail

MTR Crossrail is all about developing and upskilling its staff. They offer fantastic career progression and are always looking for talented apprentices to join their ranks.

Ranging between one and fours years, the apprenticeships schemes span a number of business functions, including Human Resources, IT, Finance, Safety, Customer Experience and Trainee Train Drivers.

Southeastern railway

Southeastern Rail currently offers apprenticeships in Customer Service, Engineering and Business. With work-based placements and days spent at their dedicated training centre, you’ll work towards achieving a recognised qualification.

Southeastern boasts that many of their apprentices enjoy the process so much they end up in permanent roles with Southeastern.

Virgin trains

Virgin put their customers first in everything they do. They want to create an awesome customer experience.

Virgin recruit regularly for apprentice customer service representatives, as well as engineers and technicians.

Check out what their current batch of apprentices has to say on the subject:

Conclusion: is a rail apprenticeship for me?

As we have seen, there are a number of organisations offering fantastic jobs to get you started as a rail apprentice, but are these jobs right for you?

All of these roles boast awesome training, great mentorship, and fast progression, but they are also looking for specific types of people who thrive in certain situations.

A good rail apprentice will be a natural problem solver and logical thinker, you should be ready and excited to tackle new puzzles and objectives every day. They will also be agile and ready to react to new problems, as the rail industry is ever-changing and requires a nimble approach. Finally, a good rail apprentice will be hands-on and ready to get stuck into whatever task is ahead of them.

If this sounds like you, then perhaps its time to start filling out some applications!