Network Rail is appealing for former professional signallers, or those who have moved to other careers in the railway industry, to consider returning to help make sure the railway can continue running during the coronavirus crisis.
While the railway is currently performing well, the national rail body says it is important to prepare for the next few weeks, and is currently looking to build up a reserve of former signallers in the North East, Yorkshire and Southern regions to provide crucial cover if some members of the workforce need to self-isolate.
Network Rail is currently working hard to keep signal boxes and control centres across the country open 24/7. This allows key workers such as doctors and nurses to continue travelling to work and means vital food and medical supplies can be transported across the country via freight services.
Signallers could be needed for roles across the country; in the Rail Operating Centre in York and at signal boxes at other locations across Yorkshire and the North East, and controllers and local managers who are also qualified signallers are already back in signal-boxes across Network Rail’s Kent, Sussex and Wessex Routes.
Chris Gee, head of operations (Eastern region) for Network Rail, said: “We are appealing for signallers who’ve retired, moved on to other careers at Network Rail or left the railway to come back and help us keep signal boxes and control centres open. Signallers are crucial to keep the railway open and we need more former workers to help us provide back-up if some of our staff can’t come to work. Full re-training will be given.”
John Halsall, Network Rail’s managing director for Southern Region, said: “This region carries half of all passengers in the country and Channel Tunnel railfreight and the pressure is on us to keep that going more than ever before. I’m appealing for signallers who’ve retired, left the railway, or moved on to other jobs in Network Rail that they can take a break from, to come back and help us keep the south moving.
“Under normal circumstances we have enough signallers to keep trains running whatever happens, from flu to winter colds season, but these are not normal circumstances and without signallers to route trains there will be no way we can keep the whole network open.”
Southern Region: Any former professional signallers interested in helping to keep trains moving should email firstname.lastname@example.org
North East and Yorkshire: Any former professional signallers interested in helping to keep trains moving should email RetiredSignallersEasternRegion@networkrail.co.uk