getting sponsored to work on the railway

In order to work on the railway, workers must undergo training and medicals as the railway is classed as a high-risk industry. This means every worker will have to be sponsored. As these sponsors put workers through training, apply for medicals, and purchase your Sentinel card.  These ensure that each individual is able to do the job safely, reducing the chance of any injuries or accidents, which is of utmost importance.


Railway Training & Medicals


Before workers can complete any work on the railway, each individual is required to complete PTS training. Most commonly, your rail employer will put you forward for this training, as well as any other relevant qualifications that may be required. But to complete this PTS training, you will need a medical assessment.

Specifically, a Personal Track Safety (PTS) Medical (not to be confused with PTS training!). A PTS Medical is designed to establish whether an individual is of good overall health and meets the requirements needed to work in a high-risk environment- the railway. To basically work on the track and remain safe whilst doing so. The medical will look at things like vision, hearing, and any other health requirements, and the results could limit your ability to work on the track. Including whether you can work alone, or whether you need to be accompanied when working on a rail track.


Your Sentinel Card & Your Sponsor


To work on the railway, every single person needs to have a Sentinel Card. They are proof that you are healthy enough to work on a rail track and in the surrounding areas whilst remaining safe.

Your Sponsor, more often than not your employer, will purchase your Sentinel card, as these are not available to be purchased by the public. However, sponsors can also be a rail recruitment provider or a company to which you provide self-employed railway work services too. It’s important to note that whoever your sponsor is, they must be a RISQS registered company. This accreditation is required for anyone working on or with the Great British Rail Industry.


What will a Sponsor need from you?


  • A valid form of I.D.
  • Right to work in the UK
  • Attend & pass a Railway Medical (Including Drug & Alcohol)

Once you have a sponsor, have passed your railway medical, and complete the minimum level of training, you are listed on the Network Rail Sentinel System. This is basically a digital list of everyone who has a Sentinel card and what their competencies are.


Personal Track Safety (PTS) Medical


A Personal Track Safety (PTS) Medical assesses whether an individual is able to work safely in a rail track environment. Promoting safer working practices in the UK, it’s designed to ensure the safety of railway workers.  


Included in an Acorn PTS Medical:

  • General Health Questionnaire 
  • Drug and alcohol test 
  • Weight/ BMI 
  • Vision test using Snellen 
  • Vision test using Ishihara for colour blindness 
  • Blood pressure 
  • Audiometry 
  • Pulse 
  • Urinalysis


Our Full PTS Medical with Drug & Alcohol will be required for anyone wishing to obtain a Sentinel card. But, if you’re looking for a variation of a PTS Medical, we also offer 2 further PTS versions.


Contact us


If you’d like to discuss our PTS Medicals further and find out which one is best for you, get in touch with our knowledgeable team. Via email at or call us on 01260 277797

Want to know more about the Occupational Health services we provide at Acorn, and how they could benefit your business and your employees? Please get in touch.