Network Rail has welcomed aboard 26 young apprentices to the Western route to begin their three-year apprenticeship programme. Accompanied by their parents and partners, the apprentices attended a special welcome evening at the Bristol Parkway Training School on Thursday, 23 August, from 5pm to 7pm.
The apprentices were given a warm welcome by Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s Western Route Managing Director, and his senior management team.
Patrick Hallgate said: “I am delighted to be able to offer 26 young local people the opportunity to join the rail industry in what is an extremely exciting time for the railways here in the West.
“Over the next 10 years the Western route will see huge investment and significant change. Many of these apprentices have been taken on to be trained within electrification and overhead lines to prepare us for electrification of the route to Bristol Temple Meads.
“The recruitment of these apprentices will play a big part in making this happen and planning for maintaining the future modernised railway.”
The apprentices were given an introduction to the Delivery Units and a look into the future of the Network Rail business including electrification by NwR’s infrastructure and maintenance delivery managers.
Afterwards, they were able to tour the training facilities. The evening ended with informal chats with their individual engineers and a chance to ask questions.
The apprentices are part of a 200-strong Network Rail cohort who will train at HMS Sultan, Europe’s largest engineering training facility at Gosport in Hampshire, over the next 12 months, starting in September and will continue their apprenticeship back in their ‘home depots’ within the Western route in June 2013.
As part of the programme, all 200 Network Rail apprentices from across Great Britain will attend the Ffestiniog Railway and Welsh Highland Railway to work during the winter’s work maintenance programme.
This visit to the FR&WHR provides them with their first real experience of working on an operational railway doing the type of maintenance and repair tasks that they can expect to be doing on a day-to-day basis when working in their Network Rail depots.
Whilst the track gauge may be narrower than the national rail network, the experience gained provides the apprentices with a valuable insight into track maintenance, and enables Network Rail to make a significant contribution not only to the FR&WHR, but also to the local community by buying all services from businesses within the local area of Porthmadog.