How to become a Railway Signaller

Within this comprehensive download we will teach you how to become a Railway Signaller with Network Rail. The guide covers every element of selection, from how and where to apply, completing the application form for success, sample tests and achieving 100% at the interview.

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In very basic terms, signallers operate the signals and points that help ensure the trains run safely and on time. It is a safety-critical role and you must be capable of working unsupervised whilst following strict procedural and safety guidelines. There is a tough selection process to pass and the information contained within our downloadable guide is guaranteed to help you succeed. In total, Network Rail recruits approximately 500 new signallers every year – so make sure you are 100% prepared for the selection process if you want to succeed. You will need to maintain high safety standards during both normal rail running procedures and also when there are incidents and disruption on the track. Disruption usually occurs when there are trespassers on a track or, more often than not, when a train is running late. Working as a signaller requires outstanding communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility, an ability to work under pressure and the ability to make systematic decisions in a timely fashion.


Whilst not exhaustive, the following list will give you a good idea of the types of skills, qualities and attributes required to perform the role competently. We recommend you take note of these, as you will need to demonstrate each and every one of them throughout the selection process.

  • Excellent awareness of safety (being safety conscious).
  • Outstanding communication skills.
  • Capable of concentrating for long periods of time.
  • Able to work alone, often unsupervised.
  • Willing to learn and retain large amounts of job-specific information.
  • Can work as part of a team.
  • Mentally and physically fit.
  • In good health.
  • Effective listening skills.
  • Able to interpret written and oral communication.
  • Flexible and a willingness to work unsociable hours.
  • Customer-focused.
  • Able to remain calm and work under pressure.

The Selection Process

Application Form

You will be required to complete a competency-based form which details your experiences to date where you meet the requirements of the role. The form is always completed online via the Network Rail website.

Assessment Centre

If you are invited to attend an Assessment Centre at one of Network Rails Centres, there will be a number of assessments that you will be asked to undertake. Example

Railway Signaller Checking Tests

This assessment measures your ability to find a fault in a sequence of operating buttons and provides useful information about your planning and decision making skills.

The Observational Ability Test Assessment

This is a 6 part assessment designed to assess some specific aspects of your attention skills including how well you can divide your attention and how well you can sustain attention over a period of time.


If you are successful at the Assessment Centre Stage you will be invited for interview. This will take place with the Line Manager and will involve a variety of questions. All candidates will be asked questions that are designed to assess your capabilities in the 8 core non-technical skills areas. Specifically they will assess how you respond to particular scenarios and your preferences for different ways of working. The 8 core non-technical skills are as follows:

Conscientiousness – the ability to work diligently, with a positive attitude and be willing to take responsibility for their own actions.

Relationships with People – the ability to work with others in the team in a positive, respectful and supportive manner; providing support and help when needed and managing conflict when required.

Communications – the ability to communicate both verbally and in written format clearly and concisely and to stand your ground as necessary.

Willingness and Ability to Learn – the ability and motivation to be trained, retain information, apply it in the work environment and learn and develop on the job.

Planning and Decision Making – the ability to anticipate, plan and prioritise activities.

Multi Task Capacity – the ability to successfully carry out more than one task at a time.

Controlled Under Pressure – the ability to cope in emergency or degraded situations.

Attention Management – the ability to remain alert and focused, to manage distractions, and keep an awareness of the overall situation.

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How to Become a Railway Signaller

  • How to complete the application form for success including sample questions and answers.
  • How and where to apply for a job as a Signaller.
  • How the application form is assessed and what you need to include on your application form in order to beat the competition.
  • Advice on the Railway Signaller assessments including sample test questions and explanations.
  • Fault analysis test questions, observational ability test (OAT) and lots more.
  • Excellent tips and career advice on preparing for your interview, what to say and how to respond to each of the interview questions.
  • Actual sample interview questions and answers.