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Network Rail, Reading rail apprentice hits the track running

The apprentices specialise in track, signalling, telecoms and electrification and plant. Over the next two years they will work under supervision gaining vital experience as they train to become maintenance technicians. They will return to HMS Sultan for further courses and training throughout this time.

Steve Featherstone, director of maintenance at Network Rail, said: “Getting out on the railway, learning on the job, responding to incidents and gaining experience from our specialists is a vital part of our apprenticeship scheme. Every day, our apprentices will be part of a team making sure we get three million people to work and home again. It’s rewarding and of great value to Britain.

“The railway is becoming ever more popular and we have big plans for making it more reliable, efficient and better value for money; our apprentices will play a big role in that.”

He added: “We now have the building blocks in place so that beyond their apprenticeships, our engineers can undertake an HNC, a foundation degree and then a full degree in engineering. They can earn while they learn and go as far as their aptitude, attitude and ambition can take them.”

Duncan Whittle, 22, is a Network Rail apprentice based in his home town of Reading, specialising in electrification and plant. Duncan comments on why he joined the scheme:


“After previous experience of an apprenticeship scheme, I have learnt that they are a brilliant way to gain a qualification and learn a trade with a good mixture of practical experience and academic learning. Whilst searching for engineering apprenticeship schemes, Network Rail jumped out at me. It is a nationally known company that is going through a massive modernisation and expansion period. I believe this is an exciting time to be part of a company such as this and see a bright future within this industry.

“Coming into this apprenticeship I had no prior knowledge or experience with electrics and electronics and so it has been a steep learning curve. I have picked up many skills from the practical side of the course and have learnt so much about electrics and machinery from the academic training. In particular what I’ve learnt about motors and generators should help me greatly when I start work at my depot – I can’t wait.”

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