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Coronavirus prompts Network Rail plea to former signal staff

PUBLISHED: 11:49 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:35 31 March 2020

Network Rail has appealed to retired signal staff to consider returning to work. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Network Rail has appealed to retired signal staff to consider returning to work. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Archant

Network Rail has appealed to recently-retired signal staff across the region to consider coming back to work to support the industry in case there are staffing problems because of the coronavirus crisis.

New light signals have replace traditional sempahores on the Lowestoft to Norwich line. Picture: NETWORK RAILNew light signals have replace traditional sempahores on the Lowestoft to Norwich line. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

The infrastructure company is currently coping with the reduced traffic on the railway – but bosses are aware that a large number of people reporting sick or having to self-isolate could cause serious problems for them.

Retired signal staff who do return to work would have to be trained to ensure they are fully aware of new computer signalling systems and the company wants to ensure they are ready if they do face a crisis.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said the job of signallers had changed significantly over recent years as more track was covered by computerised signalling – the Wherry Lines from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth to Norwich were changed to computerised signalling controls from Colchester last month.

But there are a few traditional signal boxes left in some parts of the region – and some retired signallers have also worked on computerised systems.

Network Rail is working hard to keep signal boxes and control centres across the region open round the clock. This allows key workers such as doctors and nurses to travel to work and means essential food and medical supplies can be transported across the country on freight services.

More on the coronavirus crisis

David Davidson, Network Rail’s head of operations for Anglia, said: “We’re working hard to get key workers to their jobs and to transport food and medical supplies around the country. Signallers are crucial to keep this going and we need former workers to help us provide back-up if some of our staff can’t come to work.

“We’re appealing for signallers who’ve retired, moved on to other careers or left the railway to come back and help us keep signal boxes and control centres open. Full re-training will be given.”

Although the number of passenger trains has fallen significantly over the last few weeks, there has been an increase in the amount of freight on the tracks as supermarkets and logistics companies are using the rails to move items quickly around the country.

Any former professional signallers interested in helping to keep trains moving should email here.


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