What they do
Train controllers are responsible for coordinating all operations that take place on their allocated area of railway track. They work as part of a team to ensure passenger and freight trains run safely and to schedule. This is usually done using a computerised network system. Train controllers in Western Australia are able to monitor regular Transperth services in the Perth metropolitan area, TransWA services to regional areas, and long-distance freight trains used in the mining industry.
Train controllers usually work from a control to manage the efficient travel of rail traffic through their network. They respond to equipment failures and warning alarms and provide details to affected rail traffic services. They may also organise alternative transport in emergency situations, or when train services have been disrupted.
They may be required to work shift work, and may also have to work on weekends and public holidays.
Tools and technologies
Train controllers use computerised network systems to coordinate trains and ensure the trains are on the correct path and on time. They monitor several screens at once watching the progress of the trains and the condition of the signals. They use radios and phones to communicate with drivers and other operators. Train controllers may also use satellite voice communication systems and signal boxes.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a train controller, you need to undertake a traineeship in rail network control (level 4). The traineeship usually takes 24 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a train controller in Western Australia, you will need to obtain a Rail Industry Worker Card from the Australasian Railway Association.