A 20-year-old from Kidderminster is among more than 200 apprentices who have started on-the-job training with Network Rail.

David Pratt, based at the company's Stafford depot, is specialising in installing and maintaining overhead line equipment, a much-needed set of skills as electrification projects are progressed around the network.

The apprentices have completed the first year of Network Rail's advanced apprenticeship scheme. Eleven from the West Midlands have completed the first stage of their training as part of the firm's three-year scheme at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire.

The apprentices specialise in track, signalling, telecoms and electrification and plant and during their second and third years experience work on the front line, gaining experience while returning to HMS Sultan for additional courses and development.

Mr Pratt said: "My dad and granddad both worked on the railways and I liked the variety that the scheme offered. Not many people will send you away from home for a year to learn about a trade and industry and it's definitely been a worthwhile experience.

"Network Rail will support you in what you want to do and you can plan your pathway within the business and get help to achieve it.

“An apprenticeship really competes with university or college and having done it I’m really glad I took this path. It’s a good mix of theory and practical."

Neal Lawson, maintenance and operations services director at Network Rail said: “We are committed to building a better railway for Britain and we need a highly-skilled workforce to help us meet that challenge. By developing the talented and enthusiastic people that come through our apprenticeship scheme we can help create a workforce that will be vital to our future success.

"I wish David and all his fellow apprentices good luck as they join their new teams to continue their training out on the network.”