Railway maintenance engineering technicians (signalling) install and maintain the signalling systems which provide information about train movements.
There are three types of signalling systems: integrated electronic control centres (IECCs), panel signal boxes and manual lever frame boxes, so the work you do will be varied.
You could be:
- checking the signalling systems for faults and fixing them
- checking and repairing individual aspects of signalling systems, such as track circuits and axle counters
- taking and recording readings of electrical and mechanical equipment
- checking the Automatic Warning System (AWS) and the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) which apply the brakes on a train in an emergency
- checking and adjusting the points which switch the rails to divert trains from one track to another
- working with signalling equipment such as control panels and becoming completely familiar with the routes and train services they control
- maintaining signalling equipment.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Apprentices’ yearly salary:
- Year 1: £8,618 plus £1,150 bonus after successfully finishing the year.
- Year 2: £12,055.
- Year 3: £14,364.
Food and accommodation are provided free during the first year.
Once qualified, you can earn a salary of between £18,000 and £22,000 a year. Experienced technicians can earn up to around £29,000 a year.
- As a signal technician, you would work mainly outdoors in all weathers and you may have to work at heights.
- You will also work indoors in rooms containing large amounts of equipment, known as relay rooms or re-locatable equipment buildings (REBs).
- You would have to travel to different sites where the work is required.
- You would have to work shifts, including evenings, nights, public holidays and weekends.
- You would sometimes be on call and have to work overtime.
- You will have to wear protective clothing such as high visibility jacket, hard hat and safety boots.
Workforce Employment Status
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- Network Rail has a three-year Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme which trains Maintenance Engineering Technicians in areas such as: Signalling, Off Track, Track, Electrification and Plant, Telecoms or Overhead Line.
- Entry requirements: 4 subjects at National 5 including English, Maths and a science or engineering subject.
- Applications for the 2018 intake are now closed, but you can register your interest for future apprenticeships here.
- To qualify you need to be 18 years of age or older by the time you start your training.
- If your online application is successful, you will then complete some aptitude tests followed by a telephone interview. If you pass these then you will attend the assessment centre for practical tests and an interview.
- You need a good level of physical fitness, and have to pass a medical examination, which includes sight and hearing tests.
- You will undergo regular drug and alcohol tests to make sure you are not under any influence during working hours – Network Rail have a zero tolerance policy.
Employment is with Network Rail, which is responsible for maintaining around 3,000 miles of track and related infrastructure in Scotland.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- a logical approach to problem solving
- good hand skills
- good concentration
- a good head for heights
- awareness of health and safety regulations and practices
- an understanding of engineering and electrical principles.
You need to be able to:
- meet deadlines
- deal with emergencies quickly and calmly
- understand technical drawings and diagrams
- pay attention to detail
- work on your own as well as in a team
- work quickly and accurately.
- Training is on the job combined with off the job training.
- All apprentice technicians must attend the Westwood training centre in the Midlands in England, for their first 21 weeks of training. Accommodation, meals, work clothing and safety equipment is provided. The remainder of training is based at a depot close to your home address.
- In year 1 you study a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Performing Engineering Operations Level 2, a BTEC National Award in Engineering and the Institute of Leadership Management (ILM) Level 2.
- In years 2 and 3 you study NVQ Level 3 in Railway Engineering and ILM Level 3 in First Line Management.
- Network Rail has a training centre in Larbert near Falkirk for training Scottish staff in new techniques and updating their existing skills.
- With experience and suitable qualifications, you may be able to gain promotion to a senior technician post.
- There are also opportunities to move into technical support, new works testing or signalling design.
- Once you have qualified, you may be able to do further study and gain more advanced qualifications in engineering.
- With these advanced qualifications, you may be able to register as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) or as a professional engineer (IEng or CEng).
- There can be opportunities for further promotion to supervisory or management positions.
- There also could be opportunities to move into related technical posts within the rail industry.
- The Engineering Council sets and maintains the standards of the engineering profession in the UK.
- The Tomorrow’s Engineers website has more information on careers in engineering.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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