Careers at Network Rail
Network Rail (previously Railtrack plc) is the organisation responsible for managing the railway infrastructure in the UK. Using a 'passenger first' ethos they work to facilitate transporting passengers and freight across the UK and is divided into five regions: Eastern, Northwest and Central, Southern, Wales and Western, and Scotland's railway. Network Rail runs the 20 largest train stations and maintains 20,000 miles of track and associated infrastructure.
Network Rail is a public sector body or non-departmental public body (NDPB) meaning that it has a role in the process of the national government but is not part of a government department - its customers are the private passenger and freight train businesses but it does not exist to make a profit for shareholders. In 2023, Network Rail is due to be replaced by a new public body called Great British Railways.
Types Of Jobs
Employees at Network Rail take on roles that exist to facilitate the running, maintenance and development of the UK railway. Network Rail employs over 42,000 workers across four main business units; Operations, Maintenance, Engineering and Professional Services.
There are a number of career opportunities across all business units, with Professional Services alone covering marketing, human resources, IT, logistics, project management, finance, property, legal and business strategy.
Network Rail Application Process Stages
Network Rail is modernising and expanding the railway creating opportunities across Network Rail. The application process for all roles starts with an online application, with successful candidates moving onto online assessment, online tests and then onto the interview stage.
Candidates can only apply for one role, and only once each annual application cycle.
All successful job offers start in the same place: the online application form. The application form sets out your basic details and will require your CV. You should consider Network Rail's key values (determination, pride, respect, and teamwork) and ensure your CV covers all elements.
Candidates who meet the minimum criteria, which is role dependent, move onto the online assessment which has up to four phases of psychometric testing, usually carried out by SHL: situational judgment, verbal or numerical psychometric tests. If you are applying for the Graduate Scheme Engineering Track only there is an additional test - the Inductive Reasoning Test. Each test must be passed before continuing to the next.
Verbal Reasoning Test
A verbal reasoning test assesses a candidate's ability to understand and make deductions from written text. The test format typically asks the candidate to read a written passage after which they must select the most appropriate answer of a multiple-choice set of answers, allowing an objective evaluation of language understanding, logic and verbal comprehension. This is a timed test of 15 minutes during which the candidate should answer as many questions accurately as possible.
Numerical Reasoning Test
Thenumerical reasoning test measures the candidate's ability to interpret, analyse and draw conclusions from sets of data or numerical information. This is a timed test of 30 minutes during which the candidate should answer as many questions accurately as possible.
Inductive Reasoning Test (Graduate Scheme Engineering Track Only)
This test is concerned with the ability to identify and interpret patterns. Essentially the candidate is required to finish the pattern each time, selecting from a multiple choice of five. The patterns may take the form of shapes or numbers.
Situational Judgment Test (SJT)
Situational judgment tests are workplace-based scenarios where candidates are invited to answer how they might behave when presented with a specific situation. The candidate will assess the outline of a particular situation and select the response that is most or least likely to be the one they would naturally pick from multiple choice answers.
The next stage for successful candidates is the online interview, whereby candidates have one chance to record and submit the answers to questions. This will be sent to the candidate after which they have seven days to prepare and then record the interview. It is a competency-based interview, so candidates should thoroughly prepare by scrutinising the required competencies in the job description.
There is then an assessment centre day (which could be virtual, depending on the role) where candidates should expect to re-sit the psychometric tests, give a presentation, participate in group exercises and complete a face-to-face interview.
Successful candidates will then be contacted with job offers, including details of salary and benefits, which as well as annual leave include subsidised rail travel.
All successful candidates are subject to the satisfactory completion of the Government Baseline Security Standards (BPSS). This includes checking candidates:
Right to work in the UK including Visa application checks where relevant
Previous employment (three years)
Criminal record check
National security vetting where relevant (includes counter-terrorist check)
Drugs / Alcohol test (safety-critical roles and sentinel cardholders - which monitors competence and fitness to work)
Tips To Get Hired
Successful candidates are ones that have prepared well and understand what is asked of them. These are our top tips for getting hired by Network Rail.
You will need to demonstrate an understanding of Network Rail, why you would like to work there and the role itself, as well as how your skills and experience complement the role to which you are applying. You should understand the key values of Network Rail (determination, pride, respect, and teamwork) as well as their passenger first ethos and the key importance of safety.
Research The Company
Your research into Network Rail should be extensive and thorough. Read the Annual Report, any relevant and recent press and understand funding as well as future developments, aims and business requirements. Find other graduate experiences where possible and read and watch every page and video available on the Network Rail website.
Network Rail tests are carried out by SHL so you should be familiar with their format but it is always wise to practice other tests too so that you are not thrown, should Network Rail introduce a new test provider. Practice Network Rail tests both for quality of answer selection as well as speed in getting to the correct answer.
Understand The Format
Make sure that you are familiar with the format and what is required of each specific test so that you can quickly ascertain what is being asked - do not get ejected from the recruitment process by mistaking most for least, or failing to get the right answer because you didn't understand what you were being asked to do.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Here are some frequently asked questions in relation to applying for a job at Network Rail.
Do Network Rail employees get free travel?
There is no automatic right to free travel across all the regions for Network Rail employees but some roles may benefit. All employees benefit from subsidised season tickets on rail and tube networks as well as interest-free season ticket loans.
What do you wear to a Network Rail interview?
As with any graduate or corporate interview you should dress smartly and professionally which would usually entail wearing a shirt, tie and suit, or suit/dress and jacket as well as formal shoes unless there is a legitimate reason to deviate from this dress code. Working dress will vary from location and role, but interviewees should expect to be smartly dressed.
What are the benefits of working for Network Rail?
Working for Network Rail allows you to be at the forefront of the development and modernisation of the UK's railways including the final delivery of Crossrail and working to join HS2 to the current network. Network Rail is one of the UK's largest employers across the engineering sector and offers employees the chance to work on challenging and exciting engineering projects.
Is Network Rail a good employer?
Network Rail was named 29th out of the 50 Best Places to Work in the UK in the 2021 list compiled by Glassdoor, and one of the Times' top 50 employers for women in the UK.