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What's it like being a signaller

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Ads91

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I can imagine this question has been ask a thousand times but I just have a few questions I haven't found the answers to. A friend of mine who worked with me just got a job as a signaller and is currently training and he says just go for it. But easier said than done.

What's is the job it's self like?

The box I'm looking at applying for is 12 hour shifts, how does this take a toll on your body. Being sat there for so long, does it affect your back, hips etc?

I currently work for NR but I'm on the tools every day, I'm used to 8hr shifts and my days do go quick, will I find it a very boring job as I've always worked outside? (Not the best question I know, but someone might get what I mean lol)

The box I'm looking at is apparently due to close in the next 5 years and move to a ROC, is this something to be worried about, job cuts etc?

Is technology over the years going to fade out the use of signallers?

In the future id like to become a MOM, would becoming a signaller help with my chances of this?

Thanks very much guys.
 
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godfreycomplex

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The job itself is what you make it. You can sit in the chair for twelve hours and be bored if you want, or you can walk up and down, read a book, do a painting, feed the birds, whatever takes your fancy. There is (sometimes quite a bit) less to do than being on the tools though so it does help if you can keep yourself entertained. Also you have to like your own company. A lot.
Not seeking to put you off of course but it can get a tad lonely in smaller boxes. A twelve hour roster is very beneficial however because you have more days off! (Generally)
Don't worry too much about moving to the ROC is my advice, box closure dates are notorious for being wildly inaccurate. When it does occur, it's often the case that very few people want to move to the ROC, so you shouldn't have any difficulties. My advice would be to get in and trained first, compulsory redundancies are very rare in the signalling grade but even if the worst comes to the worst (which as I say is very unlikely) you've had at least five good years and come away with some highly transferable skills
There'll always be signallers. I can't foresee a system where a railway can operate with no-one to supervise it if things go wrong. Even if there is such a system, I'll be at the pearly gates sipping champagne with Grace Kelly long before it's in widespread use on the national network
Being a signaller is very helpful in becoming a MOM yes. Having a combination of the theoretical experience of signalling and the practical experience of your current role would make you an ideal candidate I would think. Needless to say the MOM's role is probably the most intrinsically secure on the railway (bridges will always be bashed, fences will always need mending, biscuits will always need to be eaten ;) )
I'd say go for it. It's a very good job that can be incredibly fun and rewarding, and if you play your cards right you'll never work another day in your life!
 

TomBoyd

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What's is the job it's self like?

It really depends on the grade, technology, colleagues and a whole lot else. My first job was a grade 2 freight box in the middle of nowhere. 3 trains a day in a token block. Literally nothing to do all day. I read a lot and I listened to the box radio a lot. I could have watched TV, movies, painted models, etc etc... but if course that's not allowed. So I didn't. Honest.

I'm now in a Grade 8 London Power Box, and it's a totally different ball game. Most of the time you have to keep a constant, low level of attention to the panel AT ALL TIMES. I cannot reinforce how fatiguing even this is, especially to start with. Most of your friends in their offices/shops etc can take 5 minutes every now and then to shut down and recharge. We can't. You'll miss a junction move, or wrongly regulate a train. It drains you, especially at first.

It does get easier, but it's very rarely easy. You do get some days/nights when the engineering works line up just right and your panel is in automatic for a while, and then you can cool off, but you're still waiting for that next phone call.

When it goes wrong, it's a third type of ball game all together. A fatality, points failure, trespassers, animals on the line, you name it, and it can go wrong. This is when the job is at its hardest, and most interesting. It will tax you, and drain you, but also exhilarate.

All in all, I love the job, I love the work, and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get everyday.

The box I'm looking at applying for is 12 hour shifts, how does this take a toll on your body. Being sat there for so long, does it affect your back, hips etc?

Depends. But yes. If you're sitting down on a VDU set up all day you get screen breaks. The location I'm going to has 2 Hours on and 1 Hour off. Enough time to pop to the gym/stretch/lie down/go for a walk.
NR is concerned with the health of its employees.
Also bear in mind that on a 12 hour roster, you get a lot of Rest Days. Use them. To rest.

I currently work for NR but I'm on the tools every day, I'm used to 8hr shifts and my days do go quick, will I find it a very boring job as I've always worked outside?

Maybe some days, maybe not others.

The box I'm looking at is apparently due to close in the next 5 years and move to a ROC, is this something to be worried about, job cuts etc?

I don't think so. The dates are very vague at the moment.

Is technology over the years going to fade out the use of signallers?

No. Not in our lifetime.

In the future id like to become a MOM, would becoming a signaller help with my chances of this?

It certainly won't hurt. LOMs love MOMs who are signalling trained because they're convenient relief men. If you want to be a MOM though, why not just go for a MOM job?
 

Ads91

New Member
Joined
19 Feb 2014
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Thanks very much for your advice and help guys, it's much appreciated. It definitely sounds like a fantastic job, it just seems such a hard decision ( for me anyway lol). I just don't want the wage aspect of the job to cloud my judgement on what I want from a job. I feel like I'd be 100% capable to do the job, it just boils down to 12 hours in a room instead of being outside. Both the signalling job and my current job has its pros and cons, I defo need a hard think about it. But your advice has been excellent and answered a lot of my questions.

I would apply for a MOMs job now if I could, but they come up so far and few between. I'm holding out for one to come up at my local depot, so then I can get rid of my hour travel and MASSIVE cost of train fair
 

Sunset route

Established Member
Joined
27 Oct 2015
Messages
1,192
It really depends on the grade, technology, colleagues and a whole lot else. My first job was a grade 2 freight box in the middle of nowhere. 3 trains a day in a token block. Literally nothing to do all day. I read a lot and I listened to the box radio a lot. I could have watched TV, movies, painted models, etc etc... but if course that's not allowed. So I didn't. Honest.

I'm now in a Grade 8 London Power Box, and it's a totally different ball game. Most of the time you have to keep a constant, low level of attention to the panel AT ALL TIMES. I cannot reinforce how fatiguing even this is, especially to start with. Most of your friends in their offices/shops etc can take 5 minutes every now and then to shut down and recharge. We can't. You'll miss a junction move, or wrongly regulate a train. It drains you, especially at first.

It does get easier, but it's very rarely easy. You do get some days/nights when the engineering works line up just right and your panel is in automatic for a while, and then you can cool off, but you're still waiting for that next phone call.

When it goes wrong, it's a third type of ball game all together. A fatality, points failure, trespassers, animals on the line, you name it, and it can go wrong. This is when the job is at its hardest, and most interesting. It will tax you, and drain you, but also exhilarate.

All in all, I love the job, I love the work, and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get everyday.



Depends. But yes. If you're sitting down on a VDU set up all day you get screen breaks. The location I'm going to has 2 Hours on and 1 Hour off. Enough time to pop to the gym/stretch/lie down/go for a walk.
NR is concerned with the health of its employees.
Also bear in mind that on a 12 hour roster, you get a lot of Rest Days. Use them. To rest.



Maybe some days, maybe not others.



I don't think so. The dates are very vague at the moment.



No. Not in our lifetime.



It certainly won't hurt. LOMs love MOMs who are signalling trained because they're convenient relief men. If you want to be a MOM though, why not just go for a MOM job?

I would say that is pretty fair assessment of working in a large ASC, PSB, SCC, IECC or ROC a constant flow of work when running normally and organised chaos when things go wrong. But that's all part of the fun :D
 
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