Phonecoach Coaching Equipment Case Study – Network Rail

Serious phone coaching: for ultimate line safety

When lives are on the line, you simply cannot afford to take any chances. So, when Network Rail employs new Signallers it is critical that they are given the very best training; supported by first-class training facilities. The safety critical communications delivered by these individuals needs to be 100% correct, 100% of the time – there is no room for error.


There is no room for error

Before being introduced to PhoneCoach’s specialist telephone-roleplay coaching equipment, Training Team Leader, Steve Burgess, and his colleagues at Network Rail’s Workforce Development Centre in York, used call-simulators for training purposes. These built-in, cumbersome, pre-digital systems meant that training could only be held in the specified rooms and they often produced low quality, unreliable recordings. In some cases, roleplays calls needed to be repeated for a decent enough call to be assessed – which prolonged the course and reduced the time available for true attention to detail.

Starting out as a Signal Operator himself, Steve recalls the changes: from levers to buttons, from buttons to computers, and finally to touchscreen technologies. With PhoneCoach, he says, “I have confidence in this portable system that can quickly be set up in any room; and
give exceptional quality in a secure digital file”


I have confidence in this portable system that can quickly be set up in any room; and give exceptional quality in a secure digital file.
Steve Burgess: Team Leader, Workforce Development Centre


A day in the life of a Network Rail Signaller

There are two primary skills that a Signaller must embody ‘like second nature’ in their critical daily work. Firstly, they must know the phonetic alphabet like it is tattooed on the inside of their eyelids. Secondly, they must have the ability to focus and concentrate at owl-like levels, audible and visibly, when relaying and receiving key signalling communications across the rail network. Lives could ‘quite literally’ depend on their precision. PhoneCoach’s state-of-the-art call-coaching equipment is designed to imitate the exact conditions of these safety critical calls. Its flexibility and portability mean that the trainers and candidates can even be in separate rooms when the roleplaying takes place. The crystal clear recordings are then saved digitally and can easily be accessed for reviewing a session, grading a call or for correcting any errors – all in a safe and non-critical training environment.

Each call is made up of three parts: 1) Determining who is calling and their role 2) Relaying the precise message/incident/instruction 3) The receiver then repeats back the message in its entirety. Only when the caller is 100% satisfied that the message has been understood can action be taken – if there is even the slightest error or doubt – the caller must start again.


“It is great to learn in a safe training environment that imitates a real-life situation.” Signaller Course Candidate


Unrivalled training expectations: Comforting if you ever travel by train

The twelve-week course involves practical and development training and, by its nature, often attracts ex-forces, police and firefighters to fill the positions. Many of these candidates comment that the level of training is higher than anything they have previously known.



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