Career as a Signalling technical engineer

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Steven Anderson is a signalling technical engineer working in London on the Eurostar fleet. The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) is the UK's first major new railway for more than a century. Eurostar, who operate the link, use five different signalling systems including an in-cab system, which gives the driver information via a display in the cab.

What does your job involve?

I am involved in updating and writing new technical documents for the shop floor. I oversee the modifications of the signalling systems on the Eurostar fleet, and am also involved in the testing and commissioning of new signalling equipment. I am responsible for fault finding and safety critical assessments, and also assess engineers on safety critical aspects of their day-to-day role.

Do you have a typical day?

Not really, my job varies from day to day, as I am involved in such a range of work.

What equipment do you use?

I use my PC and a selection of signalling test equipment. This includes various test boxes such as the TVM 430 in-cab signalling system which monitors the speed of the train at high speed in the UK and France.

Why did you choose this type of work as a Signalling technical engineer?

I chose this as a career because I find engineering interesting and feel that there is a serious lack of qualified engineers in the UK.

How did you become a Signalling technical engineer?

I started as an apprentice with Thames Water, where I achieved my NVQ Level 3 in Mechanical Electrical Maintenance. At the end of my Apprenticeship I joined Eurostar as an engineer on the shop floor carrying out corrective and preventative maintenance on the Class 373 fleet. After four years on the shop floor I felt it was time to move and I was promoted to the role of a technical engineer.

What training have you received?

When I started with Eurostar I was placed on a six-week introduction to the organisation and then introduced to my team. I went on a variety of courses covering different parts of the train throughout my time on the shop floor. Finally, I was promoted to the technical engineering section from which I was placed on an assessor's course as well as a train-the-trainer course.

What do you like best about your career as a Signalling technical engineer?

I enjoy the interaction with the shop floor and being a point of contact if there are any issues with the signalling systems.

What skills and qualities do you need?

You need to have the ability to interact with the engineers on the shop floor, to be approachable and open to constructive criticism.

What are your long-term career goals?

I am studying for a Degree in Engineering with the Open University. As a long-term goal I will be looking to become a chartered engineer and possibly look to consultancy.

Steven's route to his career as a Signalling technical engineer

  • GCSEs.
  • NVQ Levels 1, 2 and 3 in Mechanical/Electrical Maintenance.
  • City & Guilds CAD/CAM.
  • City & Guilds CNC Part Programming.
  • National Certificate in Electromechanical Engineering.
  • HND in Electro-mechanical Engineering.

Steven's Signalling technical engineer tips

  • Remain focused even when people around you take you for granted.
  • Aim high and never underestimate yourself.
  • Stand your ground and prove your point constructively if you feel you're right.

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Salary of a Signalling technical engineer

  • New entrants earn around £13,000 a year.
  • Experienced technicians earn about £22,000 a year and senior technicians may earn around £30,000.

Career as a Signalling technical engineer

  • Entry may be directly from school or via an Apprenticeship, or by transfer from related work in the engineering or electronics field.
  • The normal entry route is as an apprentice. Most apprentices join between 16 and 18, but it is possible to join at any age up to 25. Entry requirements between different Apprenticeships vary, but are normally four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) including maths, English and science or technology, or equivalent qualifications. Apprentices work towards NVQs/SVQs at Level 3.
  • The selection process includes a medical examination for physical fitness, eyesight and hearing, and alcohol and drug screening. There is a rigid policy on drug and alcohol misuse, and random tests may be conducted at any time. An aptitude test or an assessment of existing knowledge and skills may also be required.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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