As part of its measures to keep the railway running during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Network Rail recently appealed for retired signallers, or those who have moved to other careers in the railway industry, to volunteer to provide cover at signal boxes and control centres if current signallers should fall ill or need to self-isolate.
More than 200 signallers across Wales and the West responded to this appeal, all of whom needed to be brought up to date in terms of technology and licensing.
To do so, Network Rail transformed mothballed rooms at the Crindau depot in Newport, South Wales, into a state-of-the-art training centre in just four weeks, creating a facility that will now be used to train new recruits as well as those returning to signalling on the national railway.
Network Rail’s managing director for Wales and Western, Mark Langman, said: “It is a remarkable achievement that this fully functioning training suite for signallers has been completed in less than a month.
“Under normal circumstances we have enough signallers to keep trains running whatever happens, but these are not normal circumstances and, without fully trained signallers, it is possible that parts of the network would have to shut.
“I am delighted with the response from former signallers who are willing to return to the railway. Putting the right training and facilities in place means that we can get them back up to speed to help us keep moving essential freight goods, and passengers whose journeys are essential.”