What is a PTS Card & Why Do most rail industry careers require one?
What is the history behind the NCCA and the Sentinel Personal Track Safety (PTS) card? What kind of competency measures did the rail industry use before these were brought in? Why were they set up?
The National Competency Control Agency was established by Railtrack in 1999. It was set up following a number of safety related incidents following the privatisation of the railways in the early 1990s.
The Sentinel PTS card is the physical manifestation of the database which contains competency information for all individuals whose job involves working on Network Rail controlled infrastructure.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires Network Rail and our contractors working on the railway to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments to understand the potential affects of what we do on the workforce, including personnel from the train and freight operators, passengers and the public. But keeping many track workers aware of the safety risks presents quite a challenge – a challenge we are taking very seriously.
What does a person have to do to get a PTS card?
To get a Sentinel card, an individual needs to find an employer willing to sponsor them for a training course. The training course is delivered by a licensed trainer at a licensed training centre using only approved training material. Depending on the competency, the individual may need to have interim assessments before the expiry date of the competency.
Why is it so important that people working on the railway have one of these cards?
The Sentinel card is the demonstration that an individual has achieved the required level of competency and is working for an approved employer. Without a Sentinel card, Network Rail does not know if an individual has attended approved training or is working for an unauthorised employer.
Sentinel card is a simple and secure way to check that everyone working on the railway has completed the relevant training and qualifications. When track workers report to site, they just simply need to present their card – if they don’t have a card, they won’t be allowed to work. It is simple to check and means that any maintenance, renewals or enhancement work is being carried out by properly trained people with the right skills, safely at all times, and that their competencies are current.
Why are they only available to people to who are sponsored by a company? Doesn't this mean that you already have to have a job in rail to get one?
A Sentinel card is only available to an approved company as that company has agreed to monitor working hours, distribute Personal Protective Equipment and accept responsibility for that person on Network Rail infrastructure. You don’t need to have a job already as a company can sponsor an individual for the entry level Personal Track Safety.
Is there anyway to get one, if you do not already have a job in the rail industry?
No, you must have a sponsor who is willing to put you through a licensed training course.
Here is a list of all of the Sentinel certificates you can obtain:
||Personal Track Safety for non-electrified lines
|| Controller of site safety|
| PTS AC
||Personal Track Safety for AC electrified lines
| PTS DC
||Personal Track Safety for DC electrified lines
|| Engineering supervisor|
||Lookout and site warden
|| Person in charge of possession|
| LKT (P)
||Lookout trained to use Pee Wee
|| Senior PICOP|
| LKT (K)
||Lookout trained to use kango warning equip
|| NP OLE/AC-i
|| Nominated person|
| AOD: HS
|| AP OLE/AC-i
|| Authorised person|
||Level crossing attendant
|| Rail Incident officer|
| AOD: PO
|| Bridge strike nominee grade 1 |
||Individual working alone
|| BSN 2
|| Bridge strike nominee grade 2|
| TRK IND
|| Bridge strike examining engineer|
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Association of Rail Training Providers
The ARTP is the trade association for suppliers of training, development and competence management services to the rail industry.
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Sentinel is an integrated management system for some safety critical competencies on the railway. Every cardholder must be registered and managed by a sponsor / employer.
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