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Network Rail Signaller opportunity

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Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 11:51 #21761
wain77
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I've just applied through the Network Rail site for a signaller position in London. The ad doesn't give details of where in London, but in my section of the NR jobs site, it says 'Cricklewood' against my application. Whereabouts would that be? After a little research, it seems there used to be a mechanical box there, but I'm guessing that doesn't operate any more.

Also, what is the likely path through the recruitment process? How likely is it that someone with no rail experience at all would be given the job and, given that they're advertising externally, would I be right in thinking they would provide full training?

Sorry for all the questions! I've kind of applied on a little bit of a whim; I would love to be in the rail industry and love playing Simsig, but I'm guessing that the real thing would be quite different? Anyway, any info/tips that anyone has for getting through the process would be gratefully received.

Thanks!

Sam Wainwright
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 12:10 #21762
GeoffM
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Cricklewood Depot has a box which is still active. You can be recruited off the street and into a major signalling centre, no reason why not if you have the skills. You'll attend an assessment which takes a few hours and tests your logical and thinking skills, both on paper and on a computer - you don't need to know about signalling, it's to test your logic skills, amongst other things. If you pass that then you go for an interview, sometimes at the box, sometimes in an office somewhere, usually with an HR person and the box manager. At some point you also get a communications test where you phone up a computer and have a nice chat with it. If you pass that then you get to pee in a cup (drugs and alcohol test). Then, if you are picked then you attend signalling school in Watford or Leeds for about 9 weeks, with a week or two at your chosen box. Each week you have to pass the exams. If you don't pass, I think you get a chance to try again but maybe just the once - fail another week and you're out. Finally, you get to go to your box where it's hands on training which could take months before you're "passed out".

Above may need correction.

If you pass the assessment day and the communications test you shouldn't need to do it again for several years, should you not get the job and try for another job.

SimSig Boss
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 14:00 #21766
onlydjw
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From my experiences over the last 18 months:
The first thing you'll get is a Safety Critical Communications Test, which is over the phone with one of those automatic machines. Nohing to worry about (they send you a practise booklet to give you an idea).

If you get shortlisted, they will send you for an assessment day. Mine took about 3 and a half hours, and was all about logic and thinking about multiple tasks at the same time (PM me your e-mail and I can send the practise booklet/details). Do look at what they send, and do practise - some of it isn't easy (particularly the lifts) - nothing I did was on computer.

Then, if you get through that, there will be an interview. It's usually a structured interview. Having had 1 of these (and I didn't get the job), all I can say is think logically, remember safety critical and be yourself.

From what I was told about the training - it's a roughly 9 week course at either Leeds or Watford, with soem weeks in your chosen box at points during the course. I think I was told 2 weeks in the box, 3 weeks away, a week in the box, 3 weeks away, a week in the box, last 3 weeks away, and then final training and passing out in the box, or something like that. Ask about it at the interview if you get that far.

Hope that helps (it's helped me clear my head of all the crap going on today anyway).

God bless, Daniel Wilson
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 15:27 #21773
jc92
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ditto what DJW said. also can you send me the books dan as im due an assessment for my positions soon ta
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 15:38 #21774
mfcooper
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As someone who went through the process, I did it in a slightly different order to the lists GeoffM and onlydjw have posted but the steps involved are exactly the same.

The "Signaller's Assessment" logic test can be passed at one of 3 levels, and the lower 2 levels restrict which jobs you are eligible for (based on the grading of the job). I think this is the same for the Communications test, but am not sure.

I was looking at the internal vacancy list, and the Cricklewood job is indeed at Cricklewood Depot, a Grade 2 position.

Signalling School is another thing entirely, and my experience of it was as follows...

Week 1: Start my new job. Spend the first week at the signal box figuring out what I am actually seeing, how the equipment basically works and filling in a Signalling School introductory booklet. (If you do not complete this booklet then you may sent home from School!)

Week 2-5: At School learning the Absolute Block course, with written exams at the end of week 3 & 5.

Week 6: at the Box with another booklet to fill in.

Week 7&8: Back to school, and written exams at the end of each week. Practical exams in the simulator make an appearance.

Week 9: back at the Box, and another bookelt.

Week 10&11: School again, and either 1 or 2 written exams; I can't remember. Also a practical or 2. End of the Absolute Block course.

Week 12 (optional - manager's choice): At School, but this time doing the Track Circuit Block conversion course. End of signalling school.

Week 13 onwards: learning your box properly, ready to work on your own in a time frame that suits you.

And I was "off the street" and got my signalling job [Stratford North London, Grade 7] quite happily. Shame it closed down, but now I'm at London Victoria :-) And by fluke have met up with people who were a few weeks behind me at signalling school and went straight to Victoria!

Hope that helps!

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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 20:08 #21788
wain77
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the info, I'll certainly drop you a PM onlydjw. Very good to know what's coming.

Three last questions:

1. Does playing SimSig help or hinder when it comes to learning about signalling IRL?
2. How does the pay structure work, are there good prospects for moving up?
3. Is Sunday working a requirement? I understand that for drivers working on Sunday is optional, is it similar for signallers?

Maybe I should save these questions for any interview I may be lucky enough to get to? Again, thanks for the help!

Sam Wainwright
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 20:22 #21789
jc92
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youll have to work whatever your rostered (booked holidays excepted) including Xmas Etc
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 14/10/2011 at 21:53 #21791
GeoffM
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" said:
Thanks for all the info, I'll certainly drop you a PM onlydjw. Very good to know what's coming.
As you can see, it's all roughly the same for each person, just not necessarily in the same order in the early stages.

Three last questions:

" said:
1. Does playing SimSig help or hinder when it comes to learning about signalling IRL?
As long as you don't learn bad habits, like calling a train past a red signal a "PSAD".

" said:
2. How does the pay structure work, are there good prospects for moving up?
As Matt has pointed out, he's gone up the ranks quite nicely. As long as you're good at your job, you can rise through the grades. You might have to start low and soon move to a higher grade, or you might start at a high grade. It all depends on availability and you. With overtime and unsociable hours working, in a high grade box, one can easily earn over £50k, often a lot more.

" said:
3. Is Sunday working a requirement? I understand that for drivers working on Sunday is optional, is it similar for signallers?
Signallers work 24x7x365, even Christmas Day when no service trains run (engineers trains do). With limited flexibility you'll have to work whatever shifts are assigned, including Sundays and bank holidays.

On the other hand, you could be assigned to a tough week of nights followed by enough days off to take a holiday without using any annual leave. You take the rough with the smooth.

" said:
Maybe I should save these questions for any interview I may be lucky enough to get to? Again, thanks for the help!
I wouldn't ask details about remuneration or holidays at an interview - or any interview for that matter. You want the job and are prepared to accept whatever they throw at you. If you look like you might kick up a fuss then why should they employ you?! Mentioning SimSig at an interview sometimes helps, sometimes hinders from reports I've had - depends on the interviewer. Some of the questions at interview sometimes relate to railway operations which you don't necessarily know: again, it's about giving a logical response, not whether you know the rulebook.

Good luck.

SimSig Boss
Last edited: 14/10/2011 at 21:57 by GeoffM
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 15/10/2011 at 05:12 #21792
mfcooper
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SimSig mainly helped me because I knew what things like Track Circuits were. And my first job was a computer workstation, so I very quickly understood what I was seeing. You learn a lot more about how to run the service when learning your signal box, and now in Simsig sessions I make very different decisions compared to before I joined the railway.

I did mention SimSig, but I think it was briefly at the interview rather than focusing on it in an application form. As Geoff says, it can depend on the manager/interviewer.

You are booked to work Sundays and Bank Holidays, but only have to work them if no-one else can cover for you. However, the annual wage excludes these shifts, so they are worth doing for some extra cash :-) [and at time-and-a-half, too!]

" said:
On the other hand, you could be assigned to a tough week of nights followed by enough days off to take a holiday without using any annual leave. You take the rough with the smooth.

One of my colleagues managed to take 5 weeks off using only 12 days of leave (or something similarly stupid!)

You'll soon learn the way the pay works, and your hourly rate becomes a very useful piece of knowledge when opting for Sundays and overtime. One of my colleagues works almost every piece of overtime under the sun, and his wage packet is at least 1.5 times the size of mine!

And once you are in, moving up is always a possibility. Some managers even encourage it when they see how good you can/could be. Just do the job, and do it as well as you can, and you'll soon know if you want a bigger challenge.

Oh, and Good Luck!

Last edited: 15/10/2011 at 05:14 by mfcooper
Reason: spelling, etc

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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 16/10/2011 at 20:34 #21823
wain77
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Thanks Matthew and everyone for all that info. I've been doing a bit of research on what it's like to be a signaller - looks like grade 2 could be a good place to start!

I know I said the last lot of questions I asked would be my last, and apologies if these have been asked, and answered, elsewhere... BUT!

Does anyone know if this job on the Cricklewood Depot panel of West Hampstead PSB, or is it a completely separate box at Cricklewood Depot? Will NR get in touch with everyone who applies for this (presumably fairly soon after the closing date of 27/10); on the website I wasn't required to fill out an application form or submit a CV, just fill out a form with my contact details and send it off? How many people are likely to apply for a grade 2 job; someone mentioned the job is being advertised internally...?

I would love to get this, but on the other hand I don't want to get too excited...

Again, thanks.

Sam

Sam Wainwright
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 16/10/2011 at 20:46 #21824
jc92
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as a fellow applicant:

i have applied now for plenty of crossing keeper and signaller positions and have currently got as far as the communication test- i am now waiting for replies regarding the selection assessment.

apply for as much as you can and have patience. these things take time. NR informs you when your application status changes or you are required for an assessment. also you can check your applications on your account.

and good luck

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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 17/10/2011 at 12:45 #21831
MrBitsy
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Good luck with your application

I am a signaller at West Hampstead and can confirm Cricklewood is a separate box in the depot. from my initial application, it was three months to the day until my first day at the training school. You will be sent for a medical then an assessment day. The day started with 25 people, and at the end of each test people were sent home, until just five of us passed the day. You will be sent training material to practice on - practice until you can do them in your sleep I found each test had far too many questions for me to answer accurately - so I made sure I got each answer correct, rather than answer all questions with some wrong. In one test I only answered 60% of the questions, leaving the rest blank - I got the job at West Hampstead t grade 8, so I presume they would prefer fewer correct answers rather than all answered but many wrong.

If you get as far as the school, you will be expected to stay in a hotel Monday to Friday regardless how close you live. Nine weeks at the school with a week in the middle back at your home box of visiting boxes in the area. On my course we had a test each friday that had to be passed. You get one yellow card to be used through the whole nine weeks. If you get the card, you go back in with the examiners for an aural test - pass that and you stay, fail and you go! When the school is passed you start training in the box. In my first week I had a three hour aural exam with the chief signalling inspector. I failed first attempt but passed on second.

I really love the job of signaller. Each day is different and you never know what you'll get. just yesterday I had a freight driver report three cows in the four foot - all signals replaced to danger and the emergency function of the new GSM radio used to bring all trains to a stand. After that a points failure at Bedford south junction requiring trains to be talked past signals and routes manually set for two hours! Cricklewood is much quieter obviously, but a bit of experience there and you can start your way unto the busier boxes B)

TVSC Link 4 signaller - Temple Meads, Bath & Stoke Gifford
Last edited: 17/10/2011 at 13:02 by MrBitsy
Reason: extra content

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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 19/10/2011 at 09:32 #21860
wain77
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Hi everyone

Just had an email saying 'sorry, not this time'. Bit disappointed, but I'm gonna keep trying!

Thanks for all the help and good wishes; here's to next time!

Sam

Sam Wainwright
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Re: Network Rail Signaller opportunity 20/10/2011 at 10:12 #21875
kbarber
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1481 posts
" said:
Good luck with your application

You will be sent training material to practice on - practice until you can do them in your sleep I found each test had far too many questions for me to answer accurately - so I made sure I got each answer correct, rather than answer all questions with some wrong. In one test I only answered 60% of the questions, leaving the rest blank - I got the job at West Hampstead t grade 8, so I presume they would prefer fewer correct answers rather than all answered but many wrong.


The paper ability tests are (or at least were) scored on number of correct answers; wrong answers aren't penalised so it's worth developing some speed in answering. I'm not sure whether the mechanised tests incorporate penalties for wrong answers (I don't even know if they use them for signaller assessment, in my day they were certainly used for footplate applicants).

If they still use personality questionnaires, there should be plenty of time given to finish (there isn't a time limit in any case), but the use that's made of PQ information should be very conservative (I always worked on the basis that it should be backed up with interview or biographical evidence before being depended on, just useful additional information otherwise).

This is all assuming things haven't changed overmuch since I was assessing applicants (although I didn't do signalman or traincrew applications).

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