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Railway signaller Points operator, signal operator

Railway signallers operate the signals and points on rail tracks to keep trains running safely and on time.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £32,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, but you’ll need a good general standard of education, including English and maths GCSEs.

You’ll need to apply to Network Rail, who operate the rail system. You’ll go through initial checks before being invited to an assessment day and interview.

Non-technical skills are very important in this job, like safety awareness, staying calm under pressure and being able to deal with large amounts of information. These qualities will be tested during the assessment. You’ll also need to pass a medical that includes drug and alcohol screening.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to do several tasks at the same time
  • good timekeeping

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include: 

  • checking incident reports at the start of the shift
  • tracking trains on computer systems and electronic displays
  • operating controls in a manual signal box or electronic control centre
  • speaking to drivers and other staff to give and receive updates
  • contacting maintenance teams to report signal problems
  • writing incident reports for managers
  • training in track regulations and new technology

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £24,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £28,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 to £32,000

Overtime and shift allowances can increase your basic pay. You may also receive subsidised rail travel as part of your salary package.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week on a shift pattern that includes early starts, nights and weekends.

You could be based in a modern control centre, at a level crossing, or in an older signalling box in a remote location. You’ll need your own transport to get to and from work.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a signalling supervisor or control room manager. With further training, you may be able to work as a signalling designer. 

You may also be able to apply for non-signalling jobs through Network Rail’s internal promotion system.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016