How to Become a Rail Track Maintenance Worker

Rail Track Maintenance

If you have an awareness of safe working practices on the railways and the ability to use automated and hand tools, then you could become a rail track maintenance and repair worker. You will need to have a good level of fitness, excellent communication and teamworking skills to be successful in this job.

What do rail track maintenance and repair workers do?

As a trail track maintenance worker, you would need to help repair and maintain the railways, tunnels, bridges, and trackside equipment that makes up the country’s rail network.  Your duties would include:

  • installing and renewing  truck, tunnels, embankments, cuttings, level crossings and bridges
  • measuring tracks to check sections are at the correct distance apart and at the right height
  • inspecting tracks for defects, using a combination of eyesight and equipment checks
  • reporting and clearing potential obstacles, for example after bad weather
  • carrying out site surveys to identify the maintenance needs of a track section
  • reporting accidents and incidents
  • performing lookout and hand signalling duties during trackside operations

As a trail track maintenance worker, you would operate heavy machinery to lay new track or carry out major repairs. You would normally have to work as part of a small team under the supervision of a rail engineering technician or engineer.

Entry requirements and qualifications 

You do not need to have any degree-level education to be considered for the position of a rail track maintenance worker. However, your employer could expect you to have general education, including solid knowledge of math and English.

You may want to improve your employment prospects by taking a relevant qualification, such as BTEC Introductory Certificate in Engineering Level 1. 

You could enter the profession by starting as a trainee with a rail track maintenance company. You may need to have some prior experience in construction or civil engineering to be considered for a trainee scheme.

Another way into the career is through an Apprenticeship scheme with Network Rail or Tube Lines on the London Underground. You will need to have four GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and science to be considered for an Apprenticeship with Network Rail. Similar requirements apply with Tube Lines.

Before doing a training scheme, you will pass medicals that will assess your eyesight and colour vision, hearing, and general fitness. Some background checks would be conducted to ensure you could be trusted with ensuring safety of railway travel. You will need to take alcohol and drug use tests on a regular basis.

After you start work, you would be given a short induction course to learn about all safety regulations and any rules your employer may have. As a new employee, you would work with a more experience colleague who can assist you whenever there is a need. Further training in personal track safety, basic first aid, and lookout and signaling skills would be useful for your career.

If you decide to start with an apprenticeship, you would need to complete the following courses:

  • NVQ Level 2 in Performing Engineering Operations 
  • NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 in Railway Engineering


The following are the estimated salary levels for rail track maintenance&repair workers, according to the National Career Service: 




New Workers



Experienced Workers








Employers and career development

You should look for opportunities in big towns and cities. You can work with some Underground, metro, and light rail operators. With experience, you could earn promotion to supervisor or team leader, and with some further training, become a track inspector, engineering technician or manager. 

For further reading on the job of a rail track maintenance and repair worker and current vacancies in the field, visit:

  • Transport for London