Network Rail Southern Region operations teams are working hard to keep signalboxes and control centres open 24/7, despite losing staff to self-isolation and sickness during the coronavirus crisis.

However, with the need to keep lines running day and night to keep key workers getting to their jobs and vital food and medical supplies flowing across the country, the company wants to retrain former staff to help provide backup.

Controllers and local managers who are also qualified signallers are already back in signalboxes across Network Rail’s Kent, Sussex and Wessex Routes.

Network Rail’s managing director for Southern Region, John Halsall, said: “This region carries half of all passengers in the country and Channel Tunnel railfreight and the pressure is on us to keep that going more than ever before. I’m appealing for signallers who’ve retired, left the railway, or moved on to other jobs in Network Rail that they can take a break from, to come back and help us keep the south moving.

“Under normal circumstances we have enough signallers to keep trains running whatever happens, from flu to winter colds season, but these are not normal circumstances and without signallers to route trains there will be no way we can keep the whole network open.

“So if you can help us, get in touch.”

Any former professional signallers interested in helping the railway should email southernxsignaller@networkrail.co.uk