Network Rail’s legal team has hired a trainee solicitor for the first time since the railway was privatised in 1994, with plans to take on another soon.

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Katie Barker started her training contract last September and will undergo seats in dispute resolution, property and commercial. She will also spend a seat on secondment to Dentons.

Network Rail is also thinking about taking on another trainee in September 2018.

Training principal Sian Williams said: “Network Rail has such a variety of different elements to its business that we can offer a fantastic spread of experience to a trainee, and it is important to us to be able to bring someone up through the railway, as we do with our graduate and apprentice programmes in other disciplines. We are best placed to create railway legal expertise and grow our own talent pool.”

In-house training contracts are steadily growing in number although they are still rare in comparison with ones in law firms. In 2014-15, 8.2 per cent of all training contracts were in-house – up from 4.5 per cent in 1999-2000.

Among the in-house legal teams that have launched training contracts in recent years are Royal Mail, the BBC, EY and KPMG.