What Qualifications Do You Need to Work on the Railways?

If you’re interested in a career working on or near railway lines, the specific qualifications you’ll require depend heavily on the type of position, you’re interested in.

However, there is one basic level of certification you’ll need to achieve initially in order to unlock all other options – your PTS Card.

Read on to find out what this is and to discover other qualifications you can pursue to get your career on the railways underway.

PTS Course

A PTS or Personal Track Safety Course is the absolute minimum qualification required by Network Rail to work on or near their tracks. You will not be permitted to undertake any railway work unless you first gain a PTS Card.

To take the course, you’ll need sponsorship from a reputable rail company, and you’ll also need to have achieved a C or above in GCSE English and Mathematics.

Other prerequisites include a medical examination and drug/alcohol test to ensure you’re physically capable of the type of work in which you’re interested.

The PTS qualification itself is designed to prove that you are able to personally determine your responsibilities when working on or near a railway line, understand the systems designed to keep you safe while doing your job and develop full knowledge of a Safe System of Work.

You should also be able to correctly interpret the “Personal Track Safety Handbook” by the end of this training.

A PTS Course usually takes one day, and you’ll receive your qualification within 48 hours. Remember, your existing PTS Card will last for 5 years, but you will have to renew your PTS qualification every 2 years or you will not be allowed to continue working.

You may also need to complete Industry Common Induction (ICI) training to familiarise yourself further with the health and safety requirements of construction sites, rail depots and station maintenance.

Further Qualifications

Once you have your PTS qualification, your experience on the railways will begin in earnest. After a while, you may consider specialising in certain areas of work – and there are various different certificates and types of training that will allow you to do so.

You might consider specialising in:

Lookout or Site Warden Duties

To be able to take on Lookout or Site Warden duties, you will first be required to take a Lookout Initial course. You will also need to be recertified at regular intervals.

Work as a Controller of Site Safety

A COSS must first be nominated by their employer to take on this additional duty. They must then complete a Controller of Site Safety course.

Hand Signalman or Points Operator Duties

There are specific qualifications you are required to achieve on top of your PTS certificate if you wish to become a hand signalman or points operator.

Working Alone

If your employer requires you to work unassisted, you will first need to complete an Individual Working Alone (IWA) course.

The Use of Small Plant Tools

To build your skills and confidence in using tools such as impact wrenches, generators, lights, Cobra TTs, hand trolleys, rail saws or abrasive wheels, cembre rail drills and sleeper drills, you’ll need small plant tools training.

Working on Overhead Lines

An extra qualification will be required before you are able to work on overhead lines.

Working on DCCR Lines

To specialise in working on DC conductor rails, there is a further health and safety-related course you’ll need to take.

You can apply for all of the above courses through RealSkills. For further information about the training and qualifications we offer, contact us today.


Search courses

Call Now Button