Network Rail is asking former signallers to return to the job, to prevent staff shortages causing temporary line closures.
Covid-19 precautions and staff sickness are likely to reduce the numbers of people available to run Network Rail’s signalling control centres and traditional signal boxes.
Although most passenger services are being reduced, Network Rail has little scope to reduce staffing in signalling control because roughly the same resources are needed to maintain safe operations regardless of the volume of trains.
Anyone returning to signalling would be classed as a key worker and receive full refresher training, say Network Rail’s Wales and Western Routes.
‘Even if it was 10-15 years ago, or if you have worked signal boxes on preserved railways, your skills will be invaluable to keep Wales and Western moving.
‘We urgently need help to cover signal boxes and panels across Wales and Western to help our colleagues and keep the railway running. This is essential for the country.
‘We need to keep the trains moving so that fuel reaches power stations, goods reache supermarkets, healthcare workers reach hospitals and petrol reaches the pumps.’
Network Rail has amended working arrangements in signalling control centres to minimise the risk of coronavirus spreading between colleagues.
Traditionally signalling was controlled from thousands of local signal boxes, with just one signaller on shift at a time in most boxes.
Computerisation has seen most of the signal boxes replaced by large control centres where teams of staff manage train movements and level crossings across hundreds of miles of track