Graduate Development Scheme Winner 2015

Colas Rail Graduate Programme

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017 intake but if you are interested in the Graduate Programme please email your CV to

Graduate Programme


We are currently recruiting high calibre graduates to join our Graduate Programmes.


Colas Rail is one of the world’s leading providers of rail infrastructure services. The brand is well established, with a great reputation within the rail industry, and the business is growing at an impressive rate. Joining Colas Rail is a real opportunity to establish yourself within one of the UK’s most heavily invested sectors, with a company that is going places.


We have a standing tradition of developing talent and giving our graduates the opportunity to take their career in their own hands.


There are three main programmes that we recruit for on an annual basis:


Future Leaders Programme

The aim of the programme is to produce high quality leaders, who will be the operational managers of the future. It is a 2-year programme, starting every September, which rotates both nationally and internationally. You can expect rotations across the UK between our different divisions: Rail Infrastructure, Rail Services or Rail Urban, however, in the second year of the graduate programme there is a limited number of opportunities for our high performers to work in Asia between our locations: Malaysia and Vietnam.


Working in the Future Leaders Programme requires a large amount of flexibility and a great team spirit . You will be working under our senior managers as a graduate trainee to complete various projects, from relaying track in the South East, working on a multi-disciplinary project such as the high profile Wessex project, or supporting delivery in our Freight or Plant team, and anything in-between. There will be a great variety in your activities, from technical work to client engagement, combined with a large amount of on-site work.


Commercial Graduate Programme

As a Commercial graduate, you will be enrolled in a 2-year programme, but without the rotations, and with a distinct focus on the Commercial side of our business. Here you will have the opportunity to learn and develop your skills by working towards becoming a Chartered Quantity Surveyor.


You will be working closely with our Commercial team but also the experienced operational managers and senior leaders supporting areas such as the delivery of our pre-contract work, the management of existing and the mobilising new contracts client management in one of our divisions such as Rail Services, Rail Infrastructure or Rail Urban.


Technical Graduate Programme

As part of the Technical Graduate Programme you will work in a technical and operational role with a distinct focus on the engineering side of our business, working closely with our experienced engineers and senior management on improving the UK rail system in divisions such as Rail Services, Rail Infrastructure or Rail Urban.


Here, you will have the opportunity to learn and develop your skills and to work towards becoming a Chartered Engineer in one of our many disciplines: Civils & Pway (Track), Electrical, Mechanical or Civil Engineering Surveying.


Life At Colas




National Rail Awards

The S&C South Alliance, where Colas Rail is one of the partners, won the Outstanding Teamwork Award 2016 at the National Rail Awards.

Rail Bicycle Ride

Charity Bike ride Morcambe Bay to Stafford (was Litchfield but destination changed to Stafford) - approx 176 miles over 3 days in May 2016 - the group raised £7800 for UK hospice/railway children charities.

Workforce Safety

Colas Rail have been shortlisted for UKRIA 2017 (02 Feb). Workforce Safety department. Road Risk Reduction Programme. “Committed to tackling road safety, Colas Rail created the Road Risk Reduction Programme, a holistic scheme designed to impact every area of the business which reduced vehicle accidents by 50% in just six months.”(UKRIA Official Website)

Rail Business Awards

Colas Rail, who won the Rail Freight Excellence Award for 2015 at the Rail Business Awards.

British Sword and Globe Award

The Team of Choice of the S&C South Alliance received the British Sword and globe Award.

Green Apple Awards

Colas Rail have won a Bronze Green Apple for Environmental Best Practice for the Oilaway Drain Plug Modification at the 2016 Green Apple Awards.

RailwayBall 2016

Colas Rail was Silver Sponsor of the RailwayBall 2016.

Colas Events

Colas Rail Events: Colas Rail UK holds annual football tournament, Christmas dinner, conferences and leadership events.

Colas Events



Who We Are Looking For

We are looking for bright, enthusiastic people who can work both independently and in a team. For all our Graduate Programmes we are looking for at least a 2:1 from a reputable University, and the ability to stand out, by internships, university successes or extracurricular activities. We are also looking for graduates who have behaviours that tie in with our behavioural framework which is our approach to how we deliver the work at Colas Rail:



Future Leaders Programme

We accept applications from graduates in any discipline. Examples include:


Commercial Programme

We are looking for:


Technical Programme

We are looking for:


We are strong supporters of equal opportunities, and seek applications from all graduates, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, nationality, disabilities, marital status or sexual orientation.

Recruitment Process

When applying for a position within our graduate programme, your application will go through several stages. We put a guide together to ease the preparation process for you.



Online Application


Understanding of the rail industry and Colas Rail UK. You gain this understanding by visiting our website and social media channels for our latest updates.


Colas Rail Web



Psychometric Ability Testing and Personality Testing


Possession of basic numerical and verbal reasoning skills. You can practise these skills through numerous online providers of psychometric testing.


Comprehension of self-awareness and strengths. You can learn about your strengths by completing online personality tests.


Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)


Colas Rail has 5 behaviours through which our success is achieved. The 5 behaviours are outlined through the 5 E’s. OPQ assesses personality and behaviours against the 5 E’s.


Invitation to Video Interview


If you are successful, you will get an email invitation to a video interview. The questions in the interview will be based on the Colas Rail 5E’s.


Assessment Centre


Ability to show genuine enthusiasm and passion for both Colas Rail UK and the rail sector, as well as demonstrating excellent interpersonal skills and drive to succeed. You will have researched the company and the industry thoroughly by this stage, hence you need to practice communicating your ideas and knowledge clearly, and be confident in yourself to prove your true passion for rail and our company.

Final Stage

Offers Released & Background Check

Once you receive an offer from us, we will need to do a final background check in order to secure your place on our graduate programme.

What We Do







Success Stories


There is no better way to get a feel for the programme than to find out about the experiences of past graduates. Please read below what life is like after the Colas Rail UK Graduate Programme in the words of Will Bryant, Emma Parry and Munaf Ally who did extremely well as Colas Rail UK graduates.

Will Bryant


Will Bryant
Started 2009 (Future Leaders Programme)Discipline: Mechanical
Operations Director S&C – Track


read more


The Colas Rail Graduate Programme has given me exposure to a variety of areas of the business, at all levels, within the rail industry. You can expect to go through three 8-month rotations, which will be across the different locations and divisions, depending on the demands of the company and the direction that your skills take you within the business.


As a graduate you need to be able to slot straight into a working environment, and have the versatility to take on individual projects or work closely in a team. You will be expected to work with all levels of management and with the client, and will be expected to contribute from day one. You will receive varied and comprehensive training throughout the programme and see a real emphasis and enthusiasm from Colas Rail for you to progress within the business.


You can expect to be exposed to a variety of the rail industry’s working environments, from large Modular Track Renewal sites, High Output Track Renewals and Ballast Cleaning Systems, various Depots, Departments and Head Offices. As you rotate through the business you will work with, and learn from, industry-leading professionals from the outset. This role will require someone who is adaptable, flexible and prepared to travel.


The Colas Rail Graduate Prorgamme has given me invaluable experience of working for a major business, and has presented me with a clear career path that promises quick progression to operational management.

Emma Perry


Emma Parry
Started in 2012 (Future Leaders Programme)
Discipline: Civils
Technical Engineer


read more


The graduate programme was an excellent starting block for a career in the railway industry. Having had previous experience within the Civils Industry I quickly realised there is a vast difference between the two industries. I moved around the four different rotations within the three business sectors: Track Renewals; Rail Services and Rail systems. This allowed me to see first-hand the processes and procedures that go into the planning and delivery of projects within the rail industry and exposed me to an abundance of knowledgeable people that were willing to share their knowledge and experiences.


My favourite project was working on the Pudding Mill Lane DLR realignment scheme. Colas Rail was part of a larger contract to move the DLR Pudding Mill Lane station from its current position to approximately 80m south to allow the new Crossrail Infrastructure to exit the tunnelled section and connecting with the network into Stratford. Colas Rail were contracted to install the realigning twin track that tied into the existing DLR and comprised of 300m concrete slab track over a viaduct and 400m of ballasted track. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. Everyday faced a new challenge and exposed me to the difficulties faced within a large construction project: the technical challenge of achieving tight tolerances throughout the installation of track, despite moving structures and other constraints; the daily negotiation with all the different disciplines involved, ensuring collaboration and safe working within a small area and the time restraints, ensuring the key milestones are met to successfully open the station following the blockade in April 2014.


Now in my permanent role, I am able to put everything I learnt over the two years into practice as Technical engineer within the Light Rail Division.


The best aspect of the programme were the opportunities that were presented to me. From a very early stage I had exposure to senior management and I felt that from day one I was gaining experience that would be crucial for my career development. I also appreciated the culture of Colas Rail in that I really felt like I was joining a family.


Since finishing the graduate programme in September I have been working as a Technical Engineer for the Light Rail division within Rail Systems. This is an exciting division to work for; offering a variety of technically demanding and interesting projects with a bright future in the rail industry, worldwide. Since finishing the programme I have completed the construction of the additional stabling works at the Tramlink Depot in Therapia Lane, Croydon. I am now working on the Modernisation of the Glasgow Underground. This involves the renewal of non-ballasted track on the ramps and turnouts within the unique system. This challenging project is currently in the design stage and will progress to construction during a 28 day blockade during summer next year.

Munaf Ally


Munaf Ally
Started 2012 (Future Leaders Programme)
Discipline: Civils
Project Manager S&C Alliance


read more


My name is Munaf Ally and I proud to say I completed the Colas Rail Graduate Programme. Prior to joining Colas, I read for a Masters degree in Civil Engineering at UCL. I spent the last 18 months on the Colas Rail Future Leaders Programme being trained in the technical and management aspects of delivering railway projects in alliance with Network Rail. The graduate programme consists of rotations around the different business streams of the company. Given my particular interests, however, as well as the company’s requirements, I have rotated within the Track Renewals division. The rotations were broad and each brought about their own challenges. They included track maintenance with the High Output fleet of machines, planning and resourcing of on-track machines, compliance to British Standards Collaborative Working Policy, and Plant Reliability.


I feel very fortunate to have worked with a number of specialist teams. These experiences have helped me to develop a capacity to quickly adapt to new working environments, and have greatly enhanced my professional communication skills. I worked as an Assistant Project Manager (APM) for the delivery of the S&C Watford Junction Remodelling Project as part of the LNW South Conventional Team. I assisted Tom Stoddart, the Project Manager, who is a former graduate and an inspiring example to those coming through on the programme.


On a personal level, I saw that as a huge project and a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate my skills and growing confidence within the company. Being involved in projects of this magnitude was precisely why I chose to join a company of Colas Rail’s stature. My involvement as an APM was a testament to the unique Future Leaders Programme offered at Colas Rail, and also the support and guidance I received from all the staff I have worked with.


Right from the beginning the programme allowed for confidence in my abilities, which I intend to repay through strong work ethic and accountability for my work.





Graduate Profiles


Here we have an oppotunity to see how some of the current graduates have progressed.









How many graduates do you take on?

Across all 3 programmes we take on between 15 and 20 new graduates a year.


Is it possible to complete the graduate programme in one area?

In the Future Leaders Programme you will be required to move at least three times in two years, so we are looking for candidates who show flexibility in their location as by doing this you will gain the most experience across all our business streams.


When will I know where my rotation is?

The Career & Development team will meet with you every 3 months along with your current manager to discuss how you are achieving in your current rotation and at the mid rotation stage we discuss future moves, so you will always get 2-3 months’ notice of your next rotation.


Can I choose my rotation?

We cannot guarantee a placement at the location of your preference as the roles available depend on the openings in our projects and the managers demand for graduates but are flexible and offer you a choice as much as possible.


What kind of support do you provide for graduates when rotating?

Every time you rotate and change location, you will be given a moving allowance.


Can I work on my chartership during the Future Leaders Programme?

Every rotation will provide you with invaluable management and business experience that will tie back to the competencies you are looking to achieve, and in most cases technical experience needed to get chartered. Some rotations might not directly support the technical element as well as others depending on the discipline, however, we do provide support and mentoring throughout the Graduate Programme and beyond if you haven’t had the opportunity to achieve all your competency levels by the end of the programme.


I have absolutely no knowledge on engineering, can I still apply?

Yes, we do encourage applications from different disciplines for the Future Leaders Programme. If you do not have an engineering background, we will take that into account when allocating your rotations, so you will get rotations focused on the commercial or management side of our company.