What Is a Sentinel Card?

A sentinel Card is the name of the basic requirement needed to allow a person to work on or near a railway line. At the turn of 2014, new Sentinel smartcards completely replaced the previous cards, which are no longer valid for access to Network Rail infrastructure.

The new cards, more accessible database and enhanced sponsor duties in the scheme rules all underline that the change to Sentinel is about improving safety. Together, they ensure those working on the infrastructure are competent, medically fit and have the authority to do so.

What does a person have to do

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.

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