Railway Signaller

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Transport & Logistics

What you will do:

As a railway signaller, you could:

  • Check incident reports at the start of your shift
  • Monitor train movements on computer systems
  • Operate controls in a manual signal box or electronic control centre
  • Speak to drivers for updates, contact maintenance
  • Teams to report signal problems and write incident reports
  • Do training for track regulations and new technology


You’ll need:

  • Knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
  • The ability to operate and control equipment
  • Knowledge of public safety and security
  • To be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • The ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • To be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
  • Physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a railway signaller involves working in the field of rail operations and safety, ensuring the safe movement of trains along the tracks. While there aren’t specific GCSE subjects that are required, there are certain subjects that can provide a foundation for skills and knowledge relevant to this career, such as:

  1. Mathematics: Railway signallers often need to work with timetables, schedules, and track occupancy data. Strong mathematical skills can help in understanding train movements and ensuring safe spacing between trains.
  2. Physics: An understanding of basic physics principles can be helpful in comprehending the mechanics of train movement and the interactions between trains and tracks.
  3. Information Technology (IT): Railway signaling systems are becoming increasingly digital and technologically advanced. IT skills can be beneficial for operating computerized signaling systems.
  4. Engineering or Design and Technology: Having a basic understanding of engineering principles or technical design can be useful when dealing with signaling equipment and systems.
  5. Geography (Optional): A general understanding of geographical concepts can help in understanding rail network layouts and geography-related challenges.
  6. English: Effective communication skills are crucial for relaying information to train drivers, colleagues, and supervisors. Clear communication helps ensure the safe operation of trains.
  7. Problem-Solving Subjects (e.g., Science, Mathematics, D&T): Railway signallers often need to think critically and make quick decisions, especially during emergencies or unexpected situations.

You can get into this job through:

  • A college course
  • An apprenticeship
  • Applying directly

You could take a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you’ll need in this job, for example the Level 2 Certificate in Rail Engineering.

Some colleges organise work placements with rail engineering companies as part of the course, so speak with them to get more details.

You could do a:

  • Rail Engineering Operative Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Rail Infrastructure Operator Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Rail Engineering Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

Direct Application
You can apply directly to become a railway signaller with Network Rail, who operate the rail system. You’ll need a good general standard of education, including English and maths GCSEs.

You do not need any specific experience to become a railway signaller. However, it might be useful to have worked in a role:

  • That is safety critical
  • Where you need to concentrate
  • That involves communicating with others


Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 42-46 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience you could:

  • Become a signalling supervisor or control room manager
  • Take further training to work as a signalling designer
  • Apply for jobs in other parts of the rail system through Network Rail’s internal promotion programme