How to get a Railway Apprenticeship

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 the engineering sector more generally.

Their new scheme gives apprentices a chance to work across the entire business, from data analysis to supply chain, project management, digital and more.

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

The facts:

  • You need to be aged 18 or over on the date of your first day of employment.
  • Your salary in the first year is  £19,838 and will increase each 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 regularly recruit apprentice train drivers.

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

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 varied and include; engineering apprenticeships, customer service, business administration and apprentice train drivers.

The recruitment process is really important to GTR, they try to tailor the experience and use a number of selection methods to help recruit the best person for each role.

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

East Midlands Trains (EMR)

East Midlands Trains is dedicated to lifelong learning.

Their apprenticeship programmes offer the chance to gain valuable qualifications and practical on-the-job training whilst working for one of the UK’s Top Employers and earning a salary at the same time.

They currently run two schemes, hiring for both fleet apprenticeships and apprentice train drivers.

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 vacancies page or search the Gov database to find all of the latest vacancies.


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. These paths can take anywhere from 18 months to 4 years, depending on qualification.

You can apply for GWR jobs via their careers page.

Transport for Wales

Transport for Wales advertises all of its vacancies via This handy portal allows you to search for 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 offers 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 four years, the apprenticeship 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.

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 it’s time to start filling out some applications!

Relax. We’ll send the jobs to you.

Reckon you know what you want to do, but can’t find the perfect role? Most companies hire their apprentices in a ‘recruitment window’. This means many great jobs are only available for a short time once or twice each year.

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