If you’ve decided you’re interested in working on the railway, establishing your Sentinel Primary Sponsor will be your first step. As Sentinel cards are not available to the general public, you’ll need a Sponsor to purchase one for you on your behalf. A Sponsor is usually your new employer or you can be sponsored by a rail recruitment provider. Some recruitment agencies may charge you an up-front fee to cover this initial cost as the process includes checking your ID and a formal railway medical.
Your Sponsor will require you to provide proof of ID and your right to work in the UK. You will then be required to attend – and pass – a formal railway medical, which includes a D&A test (not be confused with DNA).
The medical is designed to provide some evidence as to your overall health, but also to highlight other issues such as vision and hearing impairment that might bar you from being on the railway at all, or colour vison deficiencies or other medical conditions that may restrict your ability to be out on track (see the Sentinel Scheme page).
- Medical Level 1: Good general health, normal colour vision, Cat 1 hearing, Cat 1 vision, ability to work alone.
- Medical Level 2: Good general health, normal colour vision, Cat 1 hearing, Cat 1 vision, cannot work alone – red triangle on card.
- Medical Level 3: Good general health, defective colour vision, Cat 1 hearing, Cat 1 vision, ability to work alone – blue circle on card.
- Medical Level 4: Good general health, defective colour vision, Cat 1 hearing, Cat 1 vision, cannot work alone – red triangle and blue circle on card.
The D&A (Drugs and Alcohol) test is not just routinely mandatory but can also be applied randomly at any time on any site. If your lifestyle choices mean this may be a problem then the railway may not be the lifestyle for you.
Once you have a Sponsor, they’ll need to ensure you’ve successfully completed the necessary safety training courses (Personal Track Safety and/or Industry Common Induction) before ordering your Sentinel smartcard. Until you are in possession of a valid Sentinel card you cannot work on the railway.