What is the PTS Card?
The PTS Card, or Personal Track Safety Card, enables individuals to legally work on or nearby Network Rail train tracks. The card is issued by Network Rail's chosen identity card scheme called Sentinel and is valid for 5 years. Having the PTS Card enures that you and those working alongside you have completed the necessary safety training, are medically fit and have passed a drugs and alcohol test. With the PTS Card, you can work as a Rail Track Maintenance Worker, where you inspect and maintain Network Rail infrastructure.
Do I need a PTS Card?
To legally work on or near Network Rail train tracks in the United Kingdom, you will need to have a Personal Track Safety. Your valid PTS Card will need to be presented to the Controller of Site Safety (COSS) to gain access.
The PTS Card is a Sentinel Smartcard, which means your qualification records are stored on the card's electronic chip. There is also a unique QR code which allows information about the card holder to be accessed on the Sentinel database.
The Sentinel PTS Card is only available to individuals who are employed or sponsored by rail engineering companies, and not to anyone in the general public. To obtain a Personal Track Safety Card, you will need to be at least 16 years old and have completed relevant training, such as the Initial Personal Track Safety Course. It is also helpful to have engineering related qualifications.
Medical test and drugs and alcohol screening
To be eligible for the Initial PTS Course, as well as your PTS card, you will need to pass a medical test and a drug and alcohol screening.
You will also need to have an approved sponsor before taking the Initial PTS Training Course - and obtaining your PTS Card from Sentinel.
How do I apply for the PTS Card?
Your Sponsor should assist you with applying and obtaining your Personal Track Safety Sentinel card. You will need to ensure that you complete the following steps and provide the necessary information:
Find a Sponsor
You will not be able to obtain a PTS Card without a Sponsor. One way to find a sponsor is Network Rail's Careers Page.
Pass Medical Test and Drugs and Alcohol Screening
You will be required to pass tests to meet the medical requirements specified by Network Rail. These are straightforward. Click for advice by Sentinel on finding an approved provider.
Attend and pass the Initial Personal Track Safety Course
The PTS Training Course takes 2 days to complete and is assessed by both a practical exam and a written exam. Upon completing the course, you should receive the following certificate: Valid Personal Track Safety (PTS) competence to work track-side.
Provide proof of identity and 2 passport photos
Proof of ID can come in the form of your passport. For rules on Passport photos, click here to see what the Government says.
Your Sponsor, on your behalf, will contact Sentinel and provide all of the above information.
Your 5 year PTS Card will take 10 days to arrive. There is a fee of £33 per year, per user. Sponsors are expected to cover this cost for you.
Training Course for the PTS Card
As part of obtaining your Sentinel PTS card, you need to complete the Initial Personal Track Safety Course. The training course takes 2 days to complete. By the end of the training, you should have an understanding of the Sentinel Scheme and how the Track Safety Handbook is relevant to you. The contents of the Initial PTS Course will help you stay safe and maintain a safe working environment around tracks.
The units include:
- Introduction to working on the track
- Accessing and Exiting the Track
- Working Safely
- Communication and Teamwork skills
- Emergency Procedures
- Safe system of work
- AC Electric Equipment
- DCCR Electrification Equipment
Before taking the Initial PTS Course, you are required to complete an e-learning module. This will be sent by your training provider once you have booked your course.
The Initial Personal Track Safety Course is assessed by both a practical assessment and a written assessment. You will need to pass both to pass the course.
To be eligible for the Initial PTS Course, you will need to be above the age of 16, have passed a medical test, a drug and alcohol screening, as well as have a sponsor from an approved company.
Upon completion of the course, you will receive a Personal Track Safety (PTS) certificate which shows your competence to work track-side. You will need this to apply for your PTS Card from Sentinel.
Cost of the PTS Card
The Personal Track Safety Card costs £33 per user, per year. This is payable to Sentinel, who issue the card and use the money for operational and development costs.
If your card is lost or stolen, you will need to order a new one and pay the fee again.
PTS Card Renewal
Your Personal Track Safety Card lasts for 5 years. In order to renew it, you will need to refresh your qualification and re-apply to Sentinel.
You will need to re-take all the tests above.