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Signalling is the ‘traffic light’ system of the railway, allowing trains to move around our network safely. Our Signallers play an integral part in the running of the railway, connecting people to places and so could you. We recently spoke with Debbie Curwen to get her perspective of life at Network Rail as a Signaller.
What job did you do before becoming a signaller?
I left school at the age of 16 and went to work for a firm of solicitors as an Office Junior and I worked my way up to be Secretary to the Senior Partner. After 8 years I left to start a family where I stayed at home to raise my two children. I then went to work for a firm of Financial Advisors as an Administrator, and I worked there for 12 years before becoming a Signaller.
What is it like working shifts?
For me personally, I absolutely love the shift pattern here, having gone from working 9-to-5 in an office most of my life, shift work became a refreshing change. On our morning shift, we start at 6:20am and change over at 1pm, so it almost feels like on a week of early shifts, you’ve had the week off, or at least you’ve got most of the day to enjoy at your leisure!
The other beauty of working shifts is that you get days off in the middle of the week, whereas I always used to work Monday – Friday and have weekends off. Currently, we work Saturdays and every other Sunday, but you could have 1-2 days off in the middle of the week. It is nice to have a midweek day off because it is quieter, plus everyone’s at school and work – I now think weekends are overrated!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a signaller?
My advice to someone who wants to become a Signaller is to thoroughly research the role of a Signaller and review the non-technical skills required. Do not let the training put you off, you need to completely commit yourself for 12 weeks and work really hard. Once you complete the training you will never look back.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside of work?
Outside of work I really enjoy spending time with family and friends. I’ve recently become a nanny so I really enjoy looking after my new granddaughter Olivia, a lot of my hobbies actually take place in a signal box because we have a certain amount of downtime in between trains so there’s plenty of time to read, listen to music, exercise and generally keep fit.
We recruit Signallers from a variety of backgrounds and industries and provide all the training you need to start a rewarding career at Network Rail. Find out more if Signalling is the right career path for you: https://bit.ly/30xWLpT