Sentinel is one of the premier safety systems in use across the Rail Industry. They provide rail workers with a ‘passport’ to work on the rail infrastructure across the UK. To make Sentinel smart, safe and simple they use the very latest smartcard technology, a secure and trusted database, with access through multiple platforms, such as smartphones. This allows workers’ competence and fitness to work to be verified simply and effectively in near real time. Sentinel provides the rail industry an Authority to Work system that enables individuals to work safely on the infrastructure. Sentinel is owned and run by Network Rail, for the industry, and is supported by the Sentinel Scheme Rules. The Sentinel Scheme Rules apply to everyone who uses Sentinel, and outline responsibilities, policies and breaches that must be adhered to.

What is a Sentinel card and who requires one?

The Sentinel card, previously known as a Personal Track Safety (PTS) card, demonstrates 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. A Sentinel card provides 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 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 appropriately trained people with the right skills, safely at all times, and that their competencies are current.

Sentinel history

Since 1999, Sentinel has been the chosen identity card scheme for making sure that people who work on or near Network Rail infrastructure have basic competence and are medically fit to do so. The system, owned and developed by Network Rail, is based on a central database and a common system for checking that people hold Personal Track Safety (PTS) or Industry Common Induction (ICI), other critical competences and medical fitness to work and in-date Drugs and Alcohol certificates, all assured against a single version of the truth. Originally a paper-based approach was taken and the system though better; was not perfect. Re-printing of cards was necessary if something changed and there was no capability to easily verify or authenticate’ the information being presented. Even with the introduction of a telephone hotline the data indicated that full checks were rarely carried out.

2013 saw a significant upgrade to the Sentinel system, making use of electronic chip technology within newly formatted cards. This allows near real time checking of competence using a variety of authentication methods such as smartphones, PC access or simple scanning of a QR code on the new cards. It is now possible to check the card against the central database in near real time using internet connectivity.  In 2014, Transport for London became the first other Rail Entity to adopt the system.

Since 2016 updates have been made to the system, with user experience at the forefront. In 2021 Network Rail (High Speed) became the second Rail Entity to onboard on to the system enabling them to validate Authority to Work on their infrastructure.

What does a person have to do to get a Sentinel card?

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 Network Rail training material.

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 the Network Rail infrastructure. You do not need to have a job already, as a company can sponsor an individual for the entry level Personal Track Safety.

Available Courses

Course Finder

Tec Training (GB) Ltd offers comprehensive nationwide railway safety courses. We specialises in the health and safety sector, so you know you are always in safe hands. Our Railway Safety courses, provides you with the knowledge and education you need to ensure your understanding of the safe working practices that are used in the UK that will keep you and those around you safe when working near or on the line.

Railway Safety Courses

Tec Training (GB) Ltd offers comprehensive nationwide railway safety courses. We specialises in the health and safety sector, so you know you are always in safe hands. Our Railway Safety courses, provides you with the knowledge and education you need to ensure your understanding of the safe working practices that are used in the UK that will keep you and those around you safe when working near or on the line.

Construction Courses

Tec Training (GB) Ltd offers comprehensive nationwide railway safety courses. We specialises in the health and safety sector, so you know you are always in safe hands. Our Railway Safety courses, provides you with the knowledge and education you need to ensure your understanding of the safe working practices that are used in the UK that will keep you and those around you safe when working near or on the line.

Traffic Banksman Courses