Working underground: a TfL trainee-to-be

Emma Costerton, on TfL's 2014 Engineering graduate programme

Emma Costerton, on TfL’s 2014 Engineering graduate programme

Found Underground speaks to Emma Costerton, an engineering finalist from the University of Warwick who will be taking up a post on Transport for London’s graduate programme next year. She tells us what it’s all about in this community guest post.

I have been accepted onto Transport for London’s Electrical Engineering graduate scheme, which lasts for two years. The scheme comprises of a series of placements in different parts of the company which you choose yourself, (great since I’m not sure what I want to do yet) although you have to undertake at least one placement in power systems, signalling and rolling stock.


There are also short placements on the front line (ticket barriers etc.) to get a more rounded view of what it’s like to work in the underground system from day-to-day.
Photo: Aurelien Guichard

Photo: Aurelien Guichard

The placements are with existing teams so I probably won’t see a whole lot of the other new graduates once I get started.


I applied on a bit of a whim; I got an email from my university careers service advertising the position and decided to go for it since transport is a field I find interesting.
For me the big attraction of the graduate scheme was the wide variety of departments and teams you could work in during the two years, and the support network available for professional development. The complimentary oyster card is pretty great as well!


I have always thought trains were fascinating, and as I don’t own a car they are how I spend most of my time getting around. I like wrapping my head around networks and the infrastructure supporting the underground system in general, and combined with the fact that I love London makes this the ideal opportunity for me.


Photo: Kevin Boyd

Photo: Kevin Boyd

When I visit London it always reminds me of how great it is to be somewhere with transport so good; you just don’t get it in many other places in the UK. Although the underground gets pretty packed around peak times (which I’ve mostly managed to avoid so far) it provides access to all of what London has to offer.


As a non-Londoner I haven’t really got the hang of the buses; the underground is so intuitive to use. But the fact that buses can get you home all through the night is what makes London a great place to go out in the evening.
Photo: mayeesherr

Photo: mayeesherr

The transport in London has to expand to meet the growing population of London, and not just on the underground. I expect the underground system will grow not just in size but in the number of trains per hour to keep up with demand.


In the far future maybe driver-less trains, phone signal on the underground or trains running 24/7? It’d be tricky to perform the engineering works with no down time overnight, but it could happen. Either way, with the crossrail and underground upgrades it’s an exciting time to be involved with TfL.
This entry was posted in Features and tagged , , , , by Natasha Clark. Bookmark the permalink.

About Natasha Clark

Digital journalist for The Times - Red Box. natasha[dot]clark[at]thetimes[dot]co[dot]uk Previously @TwitterUK, @politicshome and @thesundaytimes. Previously freelance for the Guardian and the Independent. I also work for What's New in Publishing and co-editing Wannabe Hacks. Previously I was Editor @ The Boar, the University of Warwick students' newspaper. I am a graduate of History and Politics from Warwick, and of Newspaper Journalism at City University. Ginger and proud.

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