Dr Holly Foss delivering a talk to Network Rail Engineers, part of the Level 7 Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer degree apprenticeship
Dr Holly Foss delivering a talk to Network Rail Engineers, part of the Level 7 Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer degree apprenticeship.

Network Rail has joined the group of companies taking up the University of Birmingham’s Level 7 Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer degree apprenticeship programme to help boost talent in the rail industry.

The Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer apprenticeship is designed for those who operate at potential, senior level and want to further develop their knowledge, understanding and expertise around designing, operating and developing railway systems.

This particular programme encompasses blended learning; drawing on real-world, work-based experiences whilst understanding what is happening across the nation’s railway system and how a change in one area may affect seemingly unconnected parts of the railway.

The programmes of study focus on a variety of topics including: Railway Operations, Traction Systems Design, Railway Infrastructure, Strategy and Business Management, Human Factors and Control Systems, all weaved together under the umbrella of Systems Engineering.

Upon successful completion of the 3-year programme, apprentices will have a well-rounded understanding of the complexity of the railway system and how to deal with this in the context of the rail industry, the employer and the apprentice’s own functional discipline.

The University of Birmingham worked closely with the trailblazer group of employers to develop both the Level 6 Rail and Rail Systems Senior Engineer and the Level 7 Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer standards. Both of these apprenticeship standards weave together practical experience with academic knowledge and understanding to embed skills and behaviours into professional engineers and future industrial leaders.

The University of Birmingham is the first higher education institute to deliver the level 7 Degree Apprenticeship to the Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer standard.

We welcomed the first apprentices from Hitachi Rail, Colas Rail and Ricardo Rail in September 2019 and the first cohort of Network Rail apprentices last week.

Mark Pell, Contact Account Manager, Network Rail says, “we are proud to be in partnership with the University of Birmingham to deliver the Rail and Rail Systems Principle Engineer degree apprenticeship, to our Senior Engineers. This is an exciting adventure for our Senior Network Rail Engineers to work collaboratively with other Rail organisations and share best practice across the Rail industry. The knowledge gained from this programme will prepare our Engineers for the development of the future Railways systems across the UK for many years to come.”

Holly Foss, Director of Education, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education says, “we are thrilled to have welcomed the second cohort of Degree Apprentices to join us at BCRRE with this group from Network Rail. At BCRRE we are at the heart of the industry academia interface for the rail sector.

“The Degree Apprenticeship provides learners with increased opportunities for personal and professional development centred on the required skills, competencies, and behaviours identified by the sector. As a mode of study this represents an exciting addition to our current student body, where Degree Apprentices will join with full-time and part-time home and international students all working towards enhancing their understanding and analytical skills around railway systems.”

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The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) is Europe’s largest academic-based group delivering railway science and education. With over 160 academics, researchers and professional support staff, BCRRE provides world class research and thought leadership within railways, and offers an expanding portfolio of high-quality education programmes, including Rail and Rail Systems Level 6 and 7 degree apprenticeships. In 2017 BCRRE became lead partner in the £92m UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) and in 2018 it absorbed the activities of the Rail Alliance into its offering, increasing its breadth of support for innovation and growth in the rail industry.

Network Rail believe that investing in our people is key to improving the safety, reliability and efficiency of the railway. This in turn, means that we can serve the needs of our customers and the travelling public.
Network Rail Training is committed to this goal. We aim to create an environment where every individual is able to succeed and is encouraged to reach their full potential, helping the company to become a natural choice for talented people to join.
Network Rail Training provides a full training and development service that is aligned to our customer’s objectives and priorities for the successful development of their team’s capabilities and competences.
We deliver a wide range of learning solutions from technical and vocational skills, through to professional development, safety, leadership, new entrant programmes and higher education designed and developed to enable continuous improvement of safety and business performance across the business. Everything we do is to support Network Rail’s safety culture of getting everyone home safe every day.
We have set up our own state of the art training and development centres with the majority of the training being delivered by former maintenance and operations staff. This means they truly understand the technical aspects of a task with the vital safety behaviours needed to get our people home safe every day.