Coronavirus – Temporary Provisions for Signalling Locations



Our Ref: BR5/Covid-19


21st March 2020



Dear Colleague,


Coronavirus – Temporary Provisions for Signalling Locations


I am writing to you today to advise you that contingency provisions have been put in place by Network Rail in these unprecedented times in an effort to keep the railway’s running and enable key workers to get to their place of work.


I have to emphasise to you that we are experiencing extraordinary times and I am sure members will want to play their part in assisting our communities through this health crisis particularly in assisting our fellow key workers in getting to the workplace and maintain the movement of essential freight and goods. This means that a railway service will be maintained despite the problems we all face. However, I can assure you that the provisions discussed with your union and set out in this document are temporary only for the period of this crisis and will not be allowed to affect or impinge on our permanent agreements, terms, conditions and arrangements.


One thing members may have heard is that the company may seek to engage retired signallers or those from other railways such as preservation societies if the crisis is extended and there are shortages of staff.  Your union is completely opposed to such a measure and will continue to discuss this with the company.


The provisions, together with Network Rail’s statement are printed below in full.


At these very difficult times the union is doing its best to keep union services and advice forthcoming and I will keep you advised of developments as and when they happen.


Best wishes,


Mick Cash

General Secretary












Network Rail Statement:

“This document represents the company’s position on temporary contingent provisions during the current health emergency crisis.  These are temporary provisions targeted only at the current emergency and will lapse and be removed once that health emergency has passed.

The provisions have been compiled following discussions with RMT representatives but do not represent a collective agreement or a revision to the permanent collectively bargained terms, conditions, agreements and arrangements which will remain in place.

The provisions may need to be revised during the course of the health emergency and discussions with RMT will continue.”


Priority order for covering Signalling locations during period affected by Coronavirus where staff shortages occur

  • NRP Priority order 1- 8. Normal rostering and overtime /free day working to go to existing staff before any other options utilised.  All suggested divergence from NRP to be consulted with NOC reps before any implementation.   This will then be referred for discussion at Route Council level.  NOC Reps will be in regular contact via conference call with the company to discuss ongoing developments.
  • SSM where competent work signalling panel or wkstn. Company will consider replacing vacant SSM position with management for continued support.
  • Duty signaller who agrees to work more than one wkstn or panel – see National principles 
  • Signallers requested to work at another location
  • Contingent Signaller is deployed
    • Level 1 contingent Assistant Signaller – is competent to operate CCTV, answer calls, will be supervised (via on-call if necessary)
    • Level 2 contingent Signaller – is a signaller who can be deployed at a low grade location with specific restrictions e.g. no planned line blocks / T3 / SLW / TBW. Will have access to on-call supervision
    • Level 3 contingent Signaller – is fully competent as defined in company standards, if this is a manager they must be up to date on knowledge goals

The above are examples of activities of what each level of contingent signaller can do, details will be produced in a separate document, with activities being established on a risk based approach


National principles for covering Signalling locations during period affected by Coronavirus 

Managers that do not hold competencies for signalling will not be used as contingent Signalling staff

Signallers & Supervisory staff will be guaranteed payment based on existing earnings. This includes base rostered Sundays & night turn allowance E.g. when the company ask you to stay away from the workplace

Staff who have to change their travel plans i.e. season ticket holders now expected to drive due to lack of train service or take taxis, to be reimbursed costs. Where practical the company to pre-book & pay for taxi journeys.

If staff are asked to volunteer to self-isolate away from their home to hotels, they are to be compensated by way of an agreed disturbance allowance incorporating allowances for meals 

If staff are booked spare with no allocated work, they are to be stood down at home to minimise unnecessary contact/travel

No instances of sickness for COV19 to be subject to the company’s MFH policy. Self-isolation shown as “under manager direction” on the roster rather than sick.

During or prior to planned leave the company to credit back to the employee the spoilt leave should the employee be required to self-isolate.

Where it is agreed a Signaller is to work one or more workstation or panel at the same time there will be a reduced train service & a risk assessment carried out.  Any delays attributed during this arrangement will not be used for disciplinary or Performance improvement sanctions

Cancelling Annual leave will be considered on a case by case basis. The company will consider buying back AL where requested but the law has restrictions on the amount of leave you are able to buy back.  Staff can be contacted whilst on AL & asked to cancel their leave and come in to work however there will be no expectation to cancel.

Signallers who agree to work at a location not their normal place of work, will receive appropriate training, the higher rate of pay if applicable and travel expenses. 

Staff will not be forced to work any location that they do not wish to do.

Visits to Signalling Locations to be kept to an absolute minimum – no LOMs or MOMs unless necessary.




Route principles for covering Signalling locations during period affected by Coronavirus 

If staffing numbers are greatly reduced due to the virus, there may be a need to make changes to train service.  These are a range of options to be discussed and agreed where necessary, at Route Council.

The company to initiate negotiating a temporary roster change to reflect changes in train services i.e. withdrawing night services, necessitating a concentration of staff on day turns.

Cancellation of ODD days, in line with government guidelines to reduce unnecessary travel

All internal arrangements involving breaks links, unique working practices in multi-staffed locations & other flexible suggestions to be negotiated locally to suit developing circumstances.

Consideration given to extending relief signaller FP areas.

Look to our members to cooperate with plans for training contingent staff cover. E.g. signallers may be asked to volunteer to relocate from rural areas to help maintain services on main line routes & routes strategically important for freight movements as well as ex signalling staff looking to refresh their competencies & train, this includes management staff.

Selection, training and competence.

Regardless of where contingency resource comes from, previous signaller, NR employee, retired signaller, external railway etc, we will follow our core practices, be compliant with guidance on vulnerable people including the age restrictions, carryout medical checks, comply with the competency process established for the duties to be undertaken.