Fast Track: A-Z of EMPLOYERS: Railtrack

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The Independent Culture
Age: Five.

History: Formed in April 1994, Railtrack was privatised on 20 May 1996. Since then, Railtrack claims to have played a pivotal role in providing the UK's rail services, controlling train movements, signalling and access planning. Its role also extends to the maintenance, renewal and upgrading of the rail infrastructure.

Address: Headquarters at Euston Square, London.

Ambience: HQ, named Railtrack House, has an open office design and "a friendly working environment". Managerial and administration staff are expected to dress smartly while field staff dress for the working environment.

Vital statistics: Railtrack's operating profit last year was pounds 380m with a total turnover of pounds 2.46bn. During the next decade, it plans to spend pounds 27bn on renewing track, signalling modernisation schemes, stations and structures throughout the UK. Railtrack employs more than 10,000 people in the UK - around 5,000 signallers and signal supervisors; 3,000 professional and managerial staff; 1,500 clerical staff; 100 rail operators and 150 electrical control room operators. Properties which Railtrack currently owns and manages include: 32,000 kilometres of track, 2,500 stations, 40,000 bridges and tunnels, more than 9,000 level crossings, 90 light maintenance depots and other properties including railway arches.

Lifestyle: "Our graduate trainees are contracted for a 37 hour week, but we expect all employees to be flexible," says a spokeswoman. Some graduates will be expected to do shift work and even spend nights out on the track since essential maintenance work. Work is almost entirely UK based. Regional locations include: London, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Swindon and Glasgow.

Easy to get into? Up to 40 graduates are recruited each year into general management, civil engineering and electrical engineering. Engineering training schemes are accredited by the IEE and IMechE, and graduates must have undertaken a degree course accredited by these institutions. To apply for the general scheme, you'll need at least a 2:2. Contact the website: www.Railtrack.com/gradrecruit.

Glittering alumni: The best is, apparently, yet to come.

Pay: Starting salary for graduates joining in September will be around pounds 17,000. Additional pounds 2,000 may be offered as a joining bonus to help defray student debt.

Training: Graduates have mentors and attend intensive training schemes. For civil, electrical and mechanical engineers, these schemes are accredited by the relevant professional institutions. The electrical and mechanical schemes have just received a full five year accreditation by the IEE/IMechE and Railtrack has been the first company in the UK to receive this under the new SARTOR regulations.

Facilities: The subsidised restaurant at Railtrack House provides a variety of meals which can be enjoyed from the 14th floor. Most meals cost around pounds 2. There are theme days every couple of months.

Who's the boss? Railtrack's chairman is Sir Robert Horton, who has announced he will be retiring later this year.

Rachelle Thackray

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