Next generation of engineers start their Thameslink training

Next generation of engineers start their Thameslink training

An unemployed teenager from Dartford is among 12 youths recruited from the greater London area to work on the government’s £6.5billion Thameslink Programme.

William Allen, 17, from Dartford, joined fellow new apprentices at London Bridge and took part in an engineering challenge a month before starting their training. The apprenticeship programme is the only scheme in the UK to teach traditional railway maintenance skills and offer practical experience on a high profile, cutting-edge engineering project, greatly enhancing their long term career prospects.

Recruited from greater London

The new recruits range in age between 17 and 25 and have been drawn from the area local to the programme, including:

  • William Allen, 17, Dartford – signalling
  • Liam Evans, 19, Buckhurst Hill – signalling
  • Charlie White, 20, Dagenham – track
  • Gervaise Mckinnon, 25, East Acton – track
  • Vikash Chavada, 21, Streatham – electrification and plant

They will spend a year at the joint Network Rail / Royal Navy training facility at HMS Sultan in Gosport before completing the final two years of their training working on the Britain’s biggest station redevelopment. Recruited by Network Rail, Balfour Beatty Rail and Siemens Rail Automation they will specialise in disciplines ranging from signalling, telecoms and track maintenance to electrification & plant.

The youngest apprentice joining the scheme

William wasn’t able to find a job when he left school and after spending over a year unemployed is super excited that he will join the Thameslink Programme in September. William said: “I got a taste for engineering at school after making and racing electric go-carts. I applied for the apprenticeship as I really like the idea of learning on the job, and I am really excited by the opportunity to work on one of Britain’s biggest projects.”

Current apprentices offer advice

During his visit to the site, William also met a number of the current crop of apprentices who were on hand to give advice to the new recruits and to talk about how they have found their first year on the Thameslink apprenticeship scheme. Jerome Campbell, a track apprentice, said: “The Network Rail advanced apprentice scheme offers so many avenues and different steps and paths you can take once you have your apprenticeship. They start from the bottom and build you up and develop you, and at the end of the day what you’re learning is priceless”

Clare Moriarty, DfT, welcomes the recruits

Welcoming the new recruits, Clare Moriarty, Director General of the Department for Transport’s Rail Executive, said: “The Thameslink Programme isn’t just a railway upgrade. This is a significant programme of works integrating large scale infrastructure with new trains, new signalling and rebuilding London Bridge station – and doing all this while the railway remains open. “To make all this happen, we need people like you. Without today’s apprentices, tomorrow’s projects can’t be built.”