Level 3 Rail Engineering Apprenticeship

Railway Engineers hard at work

Are you looking to kickstart your career in The Railway? If yes, a Rail Engineering Apprenticeship is where you need to be. Rail can represent an interesting and rewarding career path. As a Railway Engineer, you will be doing work that makes a difference to millions of passengers everyday. The apprenticeship is a fantastic way to build on your existing skills and develop new ones that will be essential to your future in the business. 

Not only is this career fun and rewarding, you are also looking at the potential to earn up to £70,000 with the average salary starting at £25,000. 

Occupational Profile for Railway Engineering

Rail Engineering Technicians will provide technical support to Rail Engineers. Some examples of what the engineering disciplines will cover include; track, overhead line, signalling and telecommunications. As an apprentice you will have the opportunity to undertake the core learning and specialise in one particular field. Job titles include: Track Technician, Overhead Line Technician, Electrification Technician, Traction & Rolling Stock Technician, Signalling Technician, Telecoms Technician and Rail Systems Technician.

The entry requirements for this role are typically at least GCSEs in English Language at Grades 9-4, Maths at Grades 9-5 and one other subject at Grades 9-4. Or you will hold an NVQ or BTEC Level 2 of above in an Engineering subject or equivalents. 

Core Knowledge, Skills and behaviours of a Railway Engineer (level 3)

There are several knowledge, skills and behaviours that are required of a railway engineer. Throughout your apprenticeship you will develop and improve each one of these. To see the complete lists, visit Institute for Apprenticeships’ “Rail Engineer Apprenticeship page.

Knowledge Required

  • Safe and Professional working practices 
  • The scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design principles
  • How to work effectively and contribute to engineering solutions and innovation
  • The importance of 3rd party requirements and client confidentiality
  • How the railway works commercially   

Skills Required

  • Keep themselves and others safe by adhering to safe working practices.
  • Plan a high standard of technical work
  • Deliver a high standard of technical work
  • Solve problems
  • Manage resources
  • Communicate effectively

Behaviours that a railway engineer should demonstrate

  • Act professionally
  • Be risk aware
  • Display a self-disciplined, self-motivated, proactive approach to work
  • Work reliably and safely
  • Work effectively and efficiently, individually and as part of a team
  • Receptive to feedback
  • Prepared to make a personal commitment

Specific Knowledge and Skills:

In addition, for the discipline they are following, Technicians will have the following specific knowledge and skills regarding different techniques and methods used to construct, install, maintain and renew The Railway.

Track. You will need a good understanding of track geometry, the requirements, methods and techniques to install track. The impact of the railway environment e.g. tunnels, embankments, vegetation and drainage. Be able to undertake detailed inspection and analyze the performance and condition of track. 

Electrification. Be able to work to high and low voltage power rules, isolation and earthing of electrical systems at different voltages. Work on live battery & inverter systems. Understand, manage and maintain harmonic & power quality systems, transformer rectifiers, motor generators and transformers, DC traction breakers, protection and SCADA control systems.

Overhead Lines. Knowledge of excavation, ground works, different ‘piling’ methods and foundations. Understand construction design and bonding layouts, electrical clearance, insulation installation wiring and risks around radial load and correct methodology. 

Signaling. Understanding and application of safety integrity and fundamental signaling principles as applied to train control systems, the varying types of signal control and the signaling symbols and alphabet used in signaling design drawings. 

Telecoms. Understanding telecoms principles and associated operating procedures for railway communication and information systems (and systems interfaces) including optical networks, passenger alarm, customer information, CCTV and wireless networks. 

Traction & Rolling Stock. Understanding of vehicle design, construction, maintenance and operation. Working knowledge of the traction and rolling stock systems, sub systems and components which include mechanical, electrical, process controller and fluid power equipment. 

Rail Systems. This is a specialism in its own right and requires knowledge and skills from across the rail engineering disciplines above to be able to provide technical support and direction across a number of disciplines including traffic management systems, new train control systems, wheel/rail interface, remote condition monitoring and the requirements of a digital railway.

What Qualifications will you gain?

Qualifications gained during this Apprenticeship:

– Level 3 Rail Engineering (Competence)

– Level 3 Rail Engineering (Technical Knowledge)

Duration of Apprenticeship:

Typically 36 months. This will depend on your previous experience and access to opportunities.

Are you ready to take on the challenge?

See some employers / training providers ready to hire in the links below:

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Rail Engineering Operative Apprenticeship

Level 2 Rail Engineering Apprenticeship Overview

Are you looking for a meaningful career in The Railway? The Railway has been an incredibly essential part of our development as a nation. Each year, over 1.7 billion train journeys are made in the UK and 9% of all of the UK’s domestic freight was moved by rail. A Rail Engineering Apprenticeship is a fantastic way to build on your existing skills and develop new ones that will be invaluable to a Railway Engineer.

This apprenticeship can put you on the path to becoming a Rail Engineer, a lucrative job that earns on average £53,425 per year (range £22,880 to £143,000).

Level 2 Rail Engineer Apprenticeship employees discussing on a railway track with orange vests
Two engineers discussing on railway tracks with orange vests

Entry Criteria and Core Skills

To be a successful applicant for this job, training providers and employers are looking for a Rail Engineering Apprentice who is aware of safe and professional working practices, general engineering techniques, how to work effectively and contribute towards engineering solutions, has awareness of commercial principles and it’s implications.

So, Core skills for this apprenticeship include the ability to understand and comply with safe working practices, willingness to prepare for and deliver a high standard of technical work, the ability to identify and report problems, to utilise tools, materials and equipment effectively and finally all applicants must possess effective communication skills.

What do I need to be a Rail Engineer Apprentice?

To be a Rail Engineer, you would be on the front line of the railway, keeping all the trains running smoothly through managing safe construction, installation and upkeep of the extensive network.

The day-to-day responsibilities of this apprenticeship include…

  • Assisting in the Construction and maintenance of The Railway and it’s components
  • Contributing to functional and operational tests using specialist equipment
  • Helping to diagnose equipment failures and prevent future faults

Specific Knowledge and Skills required

TRACK Understand the process for track installation, methods and techniques for track inspection, maintenance and replacement, what constitutes a track defect or variation, track work instructions, hot weather restrictions and extreme weather plans. Maintain the track and its environment including vegetation and drainage.

ELECTRIFICATION Understand electrical principals. Under direction: assist in maintenance and installation of railway electrification equipment and components; assist in isolation and earthing of electrical systems at different voltages and frequencies, working on live battery & inverter systems and maintaining substation plant.

OVERHEAD LINES Understand mechanical principles and construction design. Follow instructions to assemble overhead line components so to keep in line with detailed specification, using lifting and access equipment while working at heights.

SIGNALLING Understand function and characteristics of railway signalling systems, including electrical, electronic and mechanical principles. Under direction: install & wire signalling or control systems; install position and label equipment, components and cables, undertake relevant checks; assist in testing of components and equipment plus maintain and rectify signal control systems equipment.

TELECOMS Understand principles of electronic devices, circuits, data and communications equipment. Understand the types of operational constraints when carrying out telecoms installation and maintenance activities.

TRACTION AND ROLLING STOCK Understand vehicle design, construction, maintenance and operation. Under direction, carry out preventative and scheduled maintenance activities and follow vehicle maintenance instructions on T&RS communication equipment and check subsystems are operating correctly.

What Qualifications do I gain?

Qualifications gained during this Apprenticeship:
– Level 2 Rail Engineering (Competence)
– Level 2 Rail Engineering (Technical Knowledge)
Duration of Apprenticeship:
12 months

Maximum Funding available:
– £12,000
Level of Apprenticeship:
Level 2 – Equivalent to 5 GCSE passes (see below)

A Diagram showing the different levels of apprenticeships, and to what they are equivalent. A level 2 apprenticeship is classified as intermediate and is equivalent to 5 GCSE passes.
A diagram to show the different Apprenticeship Levels. This Apprenticeship is a Level 2.

Possible job titles include; Track Operative, Overhead Line Operative, Electrification Operative, Traction & Rolling Stock Operative, Signalling Operative, Telecoms Operative.

Ready to Apply? See some employers / training providers ready to hire in the links below:

Or, check out some of the other engineering and manufacture apprenticeships listed on our website: