Rail Operator 2 GPR

Discussion in 'Railway Jobs & Careers' started by Chris1978, 20 Jun 2019.

  1. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    I have recently completed all the Commercial Guard assessments for SWR and am currently sat in the recruitment pool awaiting interview.

    However I have just been offered a interview/assessment date for a different position with SWR, the role is Rail Operator 2 GPR.
    I do not know a great deal about this position so if anyone could give me a idea of the job spec that would be great? Also does anyone know what the assessment will entail? Is it pen and paper based or role play exercises?

    Finally my goal is to hopefully be selected for a Commercial Guard role but I realise these positions don't come up frequently and that there is potentially a lot of strong candidates - so would going for the Rail Operator position put me in a better spot for a CG vacancy down the line as obviously if successful I would then have the internal advantage? I am eager to get my foot in the door with SWR.
     
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  3. SAL18

    SAL18 New Member

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    Is this at Salisbury by any chance?
     
  4. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Rail Operator or RO jobs are basically platform staff roles. They’re safety critical, but the salary won’t be nearly what that of a Commercial Guard’s is. You can make up the salary from enhancements and overtime etc, but you’d have to put in the hours.

    It certainly won’t do you any harm going for this role and then looking to move around internally as you’ll gain some really good transferable skills from being on the platforms.

    In terms of assessments, I don’t think there are any really. Maybe basic verbal reasoning which you’d do when you applied anyway through the portal? There will be a standard, competency based interview though.
     
  5. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    Portsmouth and Southsea. Are you applying for the same position at Salisbury?

    Perhaps the invite is just a interview, it didn't really elaborate on what would be involved but no assessment information or practice material was sent.

    The stumbling block is the much lower salary as I do not want to have to work ridiculous hours to make my money up. Do you know how much weekend work this position would involve? I assume there would be a rotation system where you would work a mix of week days and weekends? Also you mentioned enhancements - how much of a difference do these make to your salary?
     
  6. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    There will be weekend and nights involved, but the shifts will be more structured in terms of length and rotation than those of guards.

    I’m not sure exactly how much, but you’ll get enhancements for Sunday’s and bank holidays I believe, as well as nights. You could probably earn £30k working 50 hours a week? (The basic is a 37-hour week).
     
  7. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    See 50 hours per week is more than I want to be working regularly at this point, I wouldn't really want to be exceeding the basic hours too much as a rule.
    Apparently the assessment is mainly pen and paper based and is independent from the commercial guard assessments that I have passed.

    My concerns are that if I shouldn't be successful in the assessments it may hinder my chances of selection for a commercial guard position down the line as this would surely go on my file?
    Also this role isn't something that I was really looking to do, the commercial guard role is where my interest lies so if I was successful with the rail operator application I would really only be accepting it to get my foot in the door and to give myself the inside track with other vacancies.
    Really not sure what to do - I currently work in corporate security which I am looking to get out of so I guess any change would be good at this point especially if it provides a stepping stone to where I want to be.

    As I have now completed the commercial guard assessments and have been told I should be called in for a interview in the next couple of months is there really any advantage to persuing this rail operator role or would I just be better served to sit and wait for my commercial guard interview?
     
  8. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    If you go for the RO job and fail the assessments or don’t get offered a job if you do pass the assessments, you’ll likely have to wait 6 months to be considered for other ones such as the commercial guard job. I came from security and when I started I was on £20.5k a year which was more money and fewer hours. I was working 60-hours a week for £18k in security.
     
  9. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    I only earn around 20K in security but I could easily get up to 23-25K maybe more if I did enough overtime but I worked 60 hour weeks in security for years plus had a stint as a site manager and now 42 hour weeks(4 on 4 off) is as much as I can bare usually, plus it helps with my family commitments.

    Would you say the RO position is more interesting and diverse than security? I know security work can be a bit basic and routine. Also do you know how much weekend and night working would be involved? I currently do 50% of weekends at work(less with annual leave) and don't want to work more than that ideally less as weekends are when I get my family time. I currently only work days in security, I'm not totally against doing some night/late working as I know as a RO they would be shorter shifts at least, but daytime hours would be preferable.

    The most important thing to consider in all this though is I don't want it to harm my status in the commercial guard recruitment pool. If going for the RO job could hinder that in any way I would rather just leave it.
     
  10. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I’m not sure on the specifics of the shifts to be honest. The RO job would be 100% more varied than security I can assure you if that. You won’t get bored generally, although Portsmouth is one of the quieter stations on SWR’s network. You’ll be doing security checks of the station so will be able to utilise some of your security experience there. Then there’s the public. Never a dull moment.

    Regarding the shifts, if you’re reluctant to apply because of the weekend working and unsociable hours, don’t bother with the commercial guard role, as it’ll be even more unsociable, with some 1am/2am finishes, 4:30am starts and weekend work.
     
  11. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    I don't really mind the early/late finishes as I'm guessing that if starting at 4:30am for example you would finish early afternoon at the latest and likewise with a 2am finish you'd have the advantage of starting in the afternoon so it's kind of swings and roundabouts. I also live within a 5 minute walk from my station so there would be no commuting issues.
    I would rather be at home at weekends but I accept weekend working is part and parcel of the role and as long as you get regular weekends off that's fine, what I meant was I wouldn't be prepared to work every weekend if that's the expectation, plus days off during the week are a advantage to me as I'm then home to help with school runs/child-care. I would be prepared to be more flexible for a commercial guard position in any rate as you're compensated with a very generous salary. With the RO role my earning potential isn't really any greater than my current security job so I wouldn't be prepared to accept any shift pattern that isn't at least as favourable as what I currently do.

    However I am currently very bored and a bit demoralised with security work so a new more interesting and varied role which has the potential to help me get to my goal(commercial guard) is appealing.

    So when you say security checks of the station are we talking health and safety stuff and dealing with undesirable types that kind of thing?

    I have called the assessment centre who have confirmed that the first stage is a competency based assessment to then be followed by a interview if successful. I will call again though to check if in the event of being unsuccessful with this assessment would reflect badly on my position as a commercial guard candidate.
     
    Last edited: 22 Jun 2019
  12. Twotwo

    Twotwo Member

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    The ro2 job is decent with the enhancement. Saturday is 1.25 or 1.5, Sunday is 1.75, nights 1.33 (never did nights so not 100% sure on this one), anything about a certain amount of hours u get an enhancement but not sure. Also get IUP3 when u do a mixture of shifts which can vary to anything between £70-150. So in actual fact the pay is a LOT more then what is reflected on the advert...
     
  13. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    How many weekends did you have to work roughly over a month? 50% or more or less?

    Also as a RO do you get the same perks as SWR employees like discounted travel etc?
     
  14. Twotwo

    Twotwo Member

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    Maybe 2 weekends a month. Yes, same perks. Doesn’t matter what role you do the perks is the same for every SWR staff.

    I’m sure there’s a 1.25 rate for rest day work also so plenty of enhancements.
     
  15. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    by Security checks I mean checking for suspicious items left on the station etc. It varies how frequent these are depending on the category of the station. Portsmouth isn’t the highest category of station but checks are frequent, but not as frequent as busier stations where footfall is greater. This is a DfT requirement and they carry out their own random compliance checks. As a GPR you’ll also be working at other stations in the area. You won’t necessarily have to deal with anti-social behaviour, however stations do attract it so you will be on the receiving end at times.
     
  16. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    Thanks for all the advice it's been really helpful.
    I think I'm definitely going to persue this position but I will call the assessment centre Monday to find out if the outcome will have any impact on my commercial guard candidacy. I have only just completed my CG assessments and I would hate for something to knock me down the list or worse have to re-take any assessments or wait 6 months to be considered.
     
  17. Twotwo

    Twotwo Member

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    If you take this job you have to pass your probation to apply for an internal vacancy. This is usually around the 6 months mark.
     
  18. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    I have just passed my commercial guard assessments and am awaiting interview. So do you think going for the RO position would slow things down with the commercial guard process? My longterm goal with SWR is to be selected for a CG position and the RO job I'm treating very much as a possible foot in the door it's not a role I'd want to do longterm.
     
  19. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    As @Twotwo said, if you’re selected for the RO job you will be stuck in it for at least 6-months. So yes, it most certainly will affect the CG application.

    If you get an interview for the RO job, I’d certainly not mention you’re doing it for a foot in the door. Goes without saying of course, but I’ve interviewed people who come out and say they are only applying for ‘this’ job because they want to be a driver etc. Remember one of the managers who interviews you will be your prospective line manager, and although they won’t expect you to be in that job forever, they will want you to be applying because you want to do the job you applied for.
     
  20. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    It's a tough position to be in because it's really the CG position I'm interested in, obviously I'm realistic and know it could be a very long wait or I may not be successful at a CG interview but at this stage that's my priority and I wouldn't want to stall the process or effect my chances.

    So in brutal honesty would I be best to just wait it out a while longer to see if I get called in for a commercial guard interview? I did hear they may be recruiting several new CG's at my station but this was hear say and not confirmed.
     
  21. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    If you join as an RO, you’re right in that your foot is in the door. There are loads of avenues to develop and move around the company, which could be far easier to do once already working for them. It’s a competitive business to get in to so I would personally take whatever I was offered as longs as it pays the bills. A few years ago I may. It have done, but after 12.5 years, I’ve formed the view that it’s such a competitive industry, and once you’re in, you can gain some fresh experiences, often safety critical, which would give you an advantage for other roles, especially guards or driver grades.

    You’ll earn more as an RO than you’re ever likely to in security. The security industry is not a great one to work in and the promise of better wages etc when SIA licensing came in back in 2005/6 was all unfounded. Some ROs I know earn over £40k a year (although admittedly they don’t tend to have families...).
     
  22. Twotwo

    Twotwo Member

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    I say you go to the interview and see how you feel after. If you are offered the role it may be a few months away and you could possibly still sit the CG interview. Also, how confident are you with the CG interview? Maybe doing the operator job may improve your chances in the future? Also that’s CG role will always be there. And I guess this role will still be better then what your doing atm?
     
  23. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    The security industry is terrible for the employment terms and conditions, the only way to make real money is to work 60-80 hour weeks and that's something I'm no longer willing to do now I have a young family. There are zero perks and benefits I really wouldn't recommend the industry to anyone.
    If local railway positions came up all the time I would bide my time for the commercial guard interview but as you say it's a competitive industry to gain employment in and I realise it could be a long wait so any role to get a foot in the door has to be a advantage and as I'll be new to the railway industry it would be useful to gain experience in a platform role initially.

    Yes the RO role will still be better, security is a poor industry to work in and I want to get out sooner rather than later so at this stage any role for SWR will be better than what I currently do but as I've said the key thing for me is getting the work/life balance right, as long as that wont change drastically then yes it's the right move to persue the RO job.

    I understand the Commercial Guard interviews are quite intense. I'm fairly confident I can do quite well as I have extensive security experience on some quite high profile sites which I feel I can apply to the CG role and make a good transition. I will also do a lot of prep work prior to the interview.

    My feeling is that I am currently a external candidate for a commercial guard vacancy, so persuing and even getting the RO job shouldn't effect that should it? Obviously I just wont have any internal advantage until after 6 months as a RO but that shouldn't effect my status as a external candidate should it?
     
  24. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Agreed re security. To earn £22k I’d have had to work 60 hour weeks. Never looked back since leaving. The company was run by a bunch of ideals too.
     
  25. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    Part of the problem is most businesses out source their security so you are a sub contractor rather than a permanent employee of that company, this translates into none of the perks or benefits that the full employees enjoy, a lower salary and generally being treated like agency worker because that's basically what you are. Even when I worked as a Site Manager the treatment was still terrible.
    What I think is completely wrong with security is you receive absolutely no enhancements on your pay for working weekends, nights, unsocial hours etc, you don't even get any increment for overtime it's the same flat rate whatever hours you are working and you're often expected to work without official breaks despite usually working 12 hour shifts sometimes longer.

    It will be a happy day when I leave this industry behind.
     
  26. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Agreed. To be honest though, a lot of jobs don’t pay enhancements for unsociable hours etc. I’ve just done 12.5 years in pretty much the same role with my TOC and we didn’t get enhancements for anything. Some jobs in the future on the railway may well be restructured which means a higher salary at the sacrifice of some enhancements. My salary was good though and equates to about £17 per hour so I wasn’t too bothered. Plus you get all the perks working for a TOC, as you say. Free travel alone is worth its weight in gold (even if you only use the train to commute to work).
     
  27. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    Absolutely if the salary is high enough you dont mind not getting increments for unsocial working as its built in to the salary, but most security jobs are a low hourly rate with no enhancements for anything, and what makes it all the more frustrating is these companies will preach to you about needing to be flexible and how there is a expectation to do extra shifts to help with cover, yet they offer no pay incentive to do any of that.

    Free travel is a huge perk, is that unlimited for any journey? I would even argue it's better than extra pay depending on how much you travel.
     
  28. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Yes, the free travel is for you and your partner/spouse and any dependants. It’s free for leisure and commuting purposes for staff, and leisure only for everyone else. There’s no cap on how often you use it and it’s for all SWR services (off-peak I believe for spouse/dependant). You also get 75% off for all other TOCs for you and spouse/dependents after 6-months service. Then there’s the 6 free journeys a year on other FirstGroup TOCs, and the friends and family tickets for £6 flat rate....I love these perks but don’t use them enough. It’s pretty much the same with all TOCs but some have other reciprocal agreements etc. You also get 75% off international train travel after you’ve been with the company for a year I believe.
     
  29. Chris1978

    Chris1978 Member

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    So unlimited free travel on SWR services as well as 75% off on all other railway services for not only yourself but your partner too? That's a incredible perk and worth its weight in gold I would say. Its definitely something I would take full advantage of.
     
  30. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Yes, there are a couple of exceptions (London Underground for example and possibly Grand Central?). You’ll find that sometimes when you try to get a PRIV rate ticket (75% off) from train crew they will let you travel free anyway. All one big family.
     
  31. Cavan

    Cavan Member

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    Off topic but priv cards will be valid on Grand central from 1 July according the RST website.
     

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