Frequently Asked Questions

What does Network Rail do in terms of engineering?

Network Rail is the organisation that is responsible for maintaining, improving and upgrading every aspect of the rail infrastructure. To deliver a safe, efficient and reliable railway, we are spending around £14 million every day on maintaining the railway network.

Are apprentices committed to working for Network Rail at the end of the scheme?

We will be investing a lot in each of our apprentices as we need more and more high calibre technicians as a business moving forward, so we hope that everyone who joins the scheme continues working for Network Rail once they have completed it and continues to develop their long term career with us.

Is the Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme a genuine qualification?

Yes – the scheme leads to an externally recognised qualification, which is accredited by Edexcel and City & Guilds and reflects the quality of our training. You will achieve a range of qualifications which will provide education in engineering principles and practice to enable you to develop yourself in the future.

How will apprentices be taught and trained?

Throughout the scheme, the emphasis is on learning by doing. During the first year, apprentices undergo training at the Network Rail Training Centre within HMS Sultan, a naval engineering training base in Gosport near Portsmouth. Here, apprentices will attend workshops and have a mix of training delivered on both a one-to-one basis and in small groups. Years two and three are more workplace-based at a location near to home although apprentices return to HMS Sultan for further technical training courses each year, which will be delivered by a Network Rail team of experienced engineers.

How will you ensure the safety and welfare of apprentices?

The safety of all our people is of paramount importance, and our apprentices’ training will always be supervised by established and experienced engineers. We also appreciate that apprentices are leaving home for the first time, which is why we have taken a number of steps to ensure their welfare.

Is there a start date?

We will expect apprentices to start training with us on 9th September 2007. Selection days will be held from March – May 2007.

How much will apprentices earn?

Apprentices will be paid £8,000 during their first year and a £1,000 bonus on successful completion of the year. Accommodation and meals at HMS Collingwood are free. In the second year, they will be paid a salary of £11,000, rising to £13,000 in year three.

As an apprentice, will I receive Network Rail’s company benefits?

All apprentices are Network Rail employees from the moment they join the scheme, which means they qualify for our benefits package although the holiday entitlement is different in the first year to meet training requirements.

How much free time will apprentices have?

During the first year, apprentices will have Saturday afternoons and all day on Sunday off. They will also have five long weekends off during the year – typically Thursday afternoon to Tuesday morning – plus three block periods over Christmas, Easter and the summer.

Can I take holiday at any time I like during the course?

During your first year, your leave has already been planned and built into your training programme, and you will not be able to take normal holiday outside these periods. During your second and third years, you will be able to take your 28 days' leave like any Network Rail employee, as long as it does not clash with rail training courses that have been planned for you.

Who will be instructing us?

The training of Network Rail’s apprentices will be delivered by specially recruited and skilled trainers who will teach you all the basic engineering principles and skills that you will need. In the second and third years, it will be Network Rail's trainers who will deliver the specific rail skills you will need in our own purpose-built training school within HMS Sultan.

What is my accommodation like?

The bedrooms are dormitory style, of either four or six beds in each room, so you will have to get along with your room mates. This is part of the personal development which underpins the Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme. The Apprenticeship Scheme is more than just a technical training programme, it is a scheme carefully designed to develop your potential across a range of technical and personal aspects.

Can I bring my own TV?

Yes you can, however as you will be sharing a room, you cannot all watch individual TVs, therefore you may wish to wait until you have settled in before you decide what to bring. Every single TV that is brought onto site must have a TV licence.

Are the bedrooms en suite?

Definitely not, although more than adequate showers and toilets are provided on each floor of the accommodation blocks.

Can I bring electrical equipment?

Yes, you can bring anything that is reasonable, however Network Rail will need to test the electrical equipment to ensure it is safe to use. This will be done free of charge.

Can I come and go as I please?

During the evening and weekend you can come and go as you wish, however there is a curfew which applies to all apprentices which require them to be back in the accommodation by 12.30am, when there is work the following day.

Is there a lights out policy?

Yes after 10.30pm you should only use bedside lamps and you should try and be quiet. This is to ensure that everyone gets a good night's sleep, however do not see this as draconian measures, just common sense. If you return to your rooms after this time, you will be expected to try and not disturb the general peace.

Is alcohol allowed in the accommodation?

No, drinking in your bedrooms is a very bad idea. If you want to drink there are several bars on site, plus a very varied nightlife outside the site.

Can I take my car to HMS Sultan?

Unfortunately, because of limited car parking, it is not recommended that you bring your car, as you will not be granted entry to the base. There is, however, an excellent local transport network right outside the base and all the local facilities are in easy reach.

There seems to be a lot of rules, will I be allowed to enjoy myself?

The rules that are in place have been developed over the past couple of years to help everyone settle in and enjoy themselves. This should be one of the best times of your life with 240 friends to socialise with. None of the rules are designed to prevent you enjoying yourself, just to set a framework that everyone can live within.

What management is there of the accommodation blocks?

Each accommodation block will have a designated manager on duty until 2am every night, including the weekends. After 2am, there will be a security presence who is fully first aid trained and will also act as a fire warden. These people are here to help apprentices, not discipline them. Network Rail has a small team of managers who have extensive experience in dealing with the challenges of this programme, and we understand that 240 people living together in dormitories can be a challenging experience for some people, especially in the early weeks of the programme, and learning from this experience is a vital part of the Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme.

Are there special rules for under 18s?

Yes, as Network Rail has a legally extended duty of care for apprentices who are under 18, we take our responsibilities very seriously. The key points are that all under 18s must be back in their rooms by 12.30am hrs, and a bed check will take place at 12.45am. Additionally if the Apprentice wishes to go home for a weekend, outside the normal long weekend arrangements, the permission of the parent/guardian will be obtained by Network Rail first. Apart from this, under 18s are treated exactly the same as all other apprentices.

If I get caught taking drugs will I be dismissed?

Yes. There is absolutely no tolerance of drug abuse within Network Rail. Regular random tests are carried out for drug use: if you do not think you can abide by these rules please do not apply for this apprenticeship scheme.