Signallers control the movement and direction of trains by operating railway signals and points. They make sure that trains run safely and on time.
You could be:
testing the signalling equipment to make sure it is working properly
checking whether there are any disruptions to the train schedule, such as engineering works or incidents
setting a route for each train, taking into account speed restrictions, timetables and number of trains running
passing this information to other control rooms, signal boxes and level crossing guards to make sure trains move from one route section to the next safely
communicating with train drivers and track workers, by telephone or radio, about any problems or access requirements
using manual or computerised systems to set and lock track points to direct the trains
using manual or computerised systems to change signals for the driver to follow
monitoring train movements and data on a number of computer screens
dealing with unexpected incidents and completing reports.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on the type and size of signal equipment you work on, and level of experience.
Signallers pay is graded from 1 to 9, based on increasing experience and responsibility. Entry level pay starts at around £26,000 a year, with interim grades rising to between £35,000 and £40,000. Senior level signallers earn up to over £48,000 a year.
You usually also earn shift allowance and possibly public holiday pay and overtime, especially working Sundays. You can typically add £10,000 a year for standard extras.
You may work in a small signal box next to a track or in a large control room away from the tracks.
Shifts can vary between 8 and 12 hours, depending on location.
You may be working alone or with a team of other signallers.
You may spend a lot of time in front of computer screens.
You would have to work shifts, including evenings, nights, public holidays and weekends.
able to understand and follow rules and regulations
able to concentrate for long periods.
You need to have:
good communication skills
IT and numeracy skills
the ability to work as part of a team as well as alone
the ability to carry out more than one task at once.
You will undertake the Network Rail Signaller Apprenticeship Programme which lasts 18 months, leading to the Level 3 Operations Apprenticeship.
Training includes Initial signalling training, Station operations placement, and Incident management and response (parts 1 and 2).
You have to pass exams to progress to a full time position.
Throughout your career you are continuously assessed to ensure that your knowledge and skills are up to standard.
After some experience with less complex systems, you may undergo training to move into a highly technical control centre, controlling more trains.
After a few years' experience, you may be able to gain promotion to supervisor or manager, leading a team of signallers.
Network Rail are in the process of replacing their signalling system to the European Train Control System (ETCS) and Traffic Management (TM) Programme. This may affect signaller jobs in the future as all signalling will be done out of Rail Operating Centres (ROCs).