Signallers trained at heritage centre in bid to keep the railway running: Swindon Panel Society

Wednesday 22 Apr 2020

Signallers trained at heritage centre in bid to keep the railway running

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western

Network Rail have been training extra signallers with the help of a heritage centre as they aim to continue to move people who can’t work from home, like NHS staff, and vital freight throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Swindon Panel Society (SPS), based at Didcot Railway Centre, have offered use of its reconstructed and refurbished signalling panel, which is the desk signallers use to control trains, to help ensure Network Rail has enough trained signallers available.

Without enough signallers Network Rail wouldn’t be able to help the NHS or other emergency staff get to their places of work and they wouldn’t be able to keep freight moving to help keep power stations going, petrol at the pumps, medicines available and vital supplies in our shops.

Signallers would ordinarily be trained in existing control rooms but to minimise the risk of spreading the virus those areas are not available.

The society’s equipment works in the same way as the original in terms of route-setting as simulated trains move around the layout, obeying signals and braking and accelerating in a realistic way, making the panel an ideal training tool as Network Rail aims to keep the railway running.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s route director for Western, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Swindon Panel Society for taking us in and enabling us to train extra signallers.

“The panel is of an excellent standard and allows signallers to learn vital skills in a realistic environment.

“Those being trained would ordinarily be in the control room but to reduce the risk of spreading the virus we are not allowing visitors into those areas.”

Danny Scroggins, SPS chairman, said: “We are delighted to be helping out Network Rail by provision of training equipment in this way, and proud that we’re able to do ‘our bit’ in the fight against Coronavirus.

“The use of the panel by main line staff such as Network Rail’s is a great tribute to the standard of work of the many volunteers who have spent thousands of hours bringing the panel back to working order.”

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office -Western route

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: