FAQs

A number of FAQs are available below, we hope these can answer any questions you have about Sentinel. If these don't answer your questions then please get in touch.

Sponsors

How much will Sentinel cost?
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Final pricing is still being confirmed. Please check back on this website regularly for an update.

Will a Sponsor's name be written on the card?
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No, only "Network Rail" will be printed on the card of Network Rail employees. Individuals moving from Network Rail employment to the supply chain or vice versa will need to get a new card.

Why can we not enter free text into Sentinel, e.g. to explain why a person has not been allowed to start work?
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There are dropdown menus at all appropriate points in the system with relevant options to choose. This makes reporting much more consistent and useful.

Can I search for an individual that we sponsor on the database?
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Yes, by using their Sentinel number or a name search.

Who will be maintaining the emergency contact details on the database?
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All individual details are maintained by the Primary Sponsor; this includes Emergency Contact details.

How will Sentinel manage instances of overseas workers (employed for specific tasks) who do not have an NI number?
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Temporary National Insurance Numbers can be entered into the system in these cases. These should be entered in the following format: TN######X where # = Individual’s Date of Birth (format: ddmmyy) and X = F or M (according to the sex of the individual).

Some people are not known by their given name. Is there the option of capturing someone's alias?
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Yes – there is a 'known as' field. Note however that it is the given name that is printed on the card and is not a searchable field.

As Sponsors do we record the medical on the database?
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No, not any more. The competence-specific Medicals and Drug & Alcohol test results/certificates can only be updated by approved Occupational Health Providers, who input directly into Sentinel. A Primary Sponsor will only be able to create and maintain Temporary Restrictions.

Will there be any guidelines on how photographs should be captured on the card, like existing rules on passports?
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Yes, guidance is as for UK passport applications and is displayed for reference when uploading a photo to Sentinel. It is as follows:

When first submitted the photograph shall have been taken within the last month; be a true likeness; be full head; be in colour (not black and white); be against a light grey or cream background; be in sharp focus; be free from 'redeye'; be free of any reflection or glare from glasses; and be in good condition (not damaged, creased, torn or marked). The subject shall be facing forward with eyes open and nothing covering your face; look natural with no facial expressions (e.g. smiling, grinning or frowning). The subject shall have nothing covering their eyes unless glasses are required on an ongoing basis. They must not be wearing sunglasses or tinted glasses; and not be wearing a hat or cover their head unless for medical or religious reasons.

If there is a permanent or temporary restriction on an individual, will each Sponsor have to carry out a risk assessment?
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On Sentinel, the Primary Sponsor will complete and record the result of the risk assessment. The sub-sponsor will have access to this information and must positively acknowledge that they have reviewed the details of the risk assessment in order for the individual to be granted authority to work for them.

How do we decide who the Primary Sponsor is in cases of individuals who have multiple sponsors?
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Firstly, most individuals covered by Sentinel are in single sponsorship relationships anyway, so the majority of cardholders will automatically be allocated to their correct Primary Sponsor.

For those currently in multiple sponsorship arrangements, we will look back over the last 12-24 months of activity on any individual to assess who has been looking after that individual's well-being (funding training, new cards, medicals etc.) and will use this information to identify the most likely Primary Sponsor.

It is down to the individual to have the final say on which organisation is their Primary Sponsor, subject to the type of relationship they hold with the organisation.

Can any QR scanner 'app' scan the card?
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This is largely the case, provided your smartphone has an autofocus camera to focus on the QR code on the Sentinel smartcard. In our tests, we have found that some QR Code scanning apps are better than others and we list recommended apps on the railsentinel.co.uk website.

Please note: the Network Rail Sentinel App for iPhone and Android includes this QR code functionality as well as delivering extra features and provides the gold standard of authentication - so if you have an iPhone or Android smartphone you should download the Network Rail Sentinel app.

What is the process to become an individual's sponsor?
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As a Sentinel sponsor wanting to sponsor an individual, you should first run a pre-sponsorship check on Sentinel. If that person exists on Sentinel and already has a Sponsor, then you can only apply to be a Sub-sponsor (and only in instances where the Primary allows Sub-sponsorship). If the individual is currently un-sponsored you can request to be their Primary Sponsor and this sponsorship will be confirmed immediately. If the individual is not currently on Sentinel then you should follow the new person process and create the record on new Sentinel as Primary Sponsor.

Can individual card holders see information that is stored about them?
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Yes, individuals can see all information held on the system that relates to them via mySentinel.

Does the Primary Sponsor have to approve a Sub-sponsor's relationship with an individual?
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Yes, the Primary Sponsor has to approve Sub-sponsorship of an individual. If such a request is refused, the individual can appeal to Network Rail (however, an individual's contract of employment may preclude Sub-sponsorship).

If a secondary sponsor requests training via a Primary Sponsor, the Primary Sponsor could refuse.
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The individual can appeal this decision to Network Rail.

What happens if I am a Sub-sponsor and want to train a worker? What is the process?
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The Primary Sponsor would have to agree to this, as attending training takes a person out of the workplace. This process is handled outside of Sentinel and would need to be agreed between the sub and primary sponsor for the individual. Equally any commercial reconciliation arrangement between primary and sub-sponsors as a result is outside Sentinel.

Will temporary medical restrictions take down competences?
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The Primary Sponsor can take down and then reinstate competences based on temporary medical restrictions only.

Will Sponsors still be responsible for track visitor permits?
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Yes, Sponsors will still be responsible for TVPs.

How much will a track visitor permit cost?
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They will be free of charge.

Is the eligibility for Track Visitor Permits changing?
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No, a TVP can be applied for by a Sponsor for anyone who does not hold a PTS competence. Any individual can have up to 12 TVPs in any 12-month period.

What is SkillsID?
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SkillsID is the industry's new national competence database launched by NSARE in March 2013. It is an online record of an individual's skills, competencies and qualifications.

Who is SkillsID for?
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SkillsID is for ALL railway engineering workers. It is designed to capture the resources available to the whole railway industry, from the newest employee starting out on their journey, through to the Chief Engineer. The whole range of competencies will be available on SkillsID. This includes people working on the infrastructure and on traction and rolling stock. All of an individual's skills, competences and qualifications will be recorded on SkillsID.

Competences will be recorded in both SkillsID and Sentinel. How will this work?
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It is planned that sponsored individuals' competences which are entered into SkillsID will be automatically copied via the data link into Sentinel, if relevant (i.e. related to authority to work only). However this link will not be in place initially, so competence data will also need to be recorded by approved training providers into Sentinel. Once the link is in place this will be the preferred mechanism for data entry, which will become the norm over time, as it will ensure data quality and requires information to be entered only once. Until the link is in place, manual data entry into Sentinel must still be performed by approved providers.

 

Card Checkers

My team is based at a depot. Can we authenticate there rather than at the site?
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Yes. Read about the various authentication options you could consider whether at a depot or out on site.

If someone is working alone do they have to authenticate themselves?
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Yes, every individual needs to be authenticated before starting work for the day - this can be done either at a depot or at the first site. If you are working alone, then you still need to authenticate – either if you are authorised to do so yourself or via an approved card checker. Your Primary Sponsor can confirm whether you are authorised to authenticate yourself.

When a COSS authenticates themselves, do they then check every other card holder?
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Yes, a COSS will authenticate their own card and demonstrate that they hold a current COSS competence. They will then authenticate every member of the work team.

If I am responsible for authenticating my team and I have forgotten my card, can I still do this?
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No, as the person responsible for authenticating staff, you must have your Sentinel card.

 

Cardholders

What happens if my card is lost or damaged?
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Report it to your Primary Sponsor and they will request a new card. There will be a charge for this.

Can you reinstate a lost card once it is found?
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No, you cannot reinstate a lost card.

What will I need to provide to get a card?
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For trackside workers: name, National Insurance number, date of birth, photo, Primary Sponsor, PTS competence, D&A and Medical.

In the case of Industry Common Induction workers: name, National Insurance number, date of birth, photo, Primary Sponsor.

NB: National Insurance Number and date of birth are not stored on the card – these are used for verification purposes only when records are created.

How secure is the data stored about me? Can other organisations see my personal data?
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Very secure. All aspects of the Sentinel service have been designed and implemented in line with industry best practice and relevant data and information security standards (ISO27001).

Will I be able to update any of my personal data in mySentinel?
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You can request changes to your details via the mySentinel site. This will send an email to your Primary Sponsor who will need to update Sentinel directly.

Can sponsors see my mySentinel record?
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No, only you, the cardholder, can view your mySentinel record - but your primary and sub-sponsors can see your record on the main database.

Will cards be sent to my home address?
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No. New cards are requested by Primary Sponsors and sent to the Primary Sponsor's address.

 

Training Providers

Will you be able to add assessments with dates in the future as is the case with Sentinel at the moment?
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No. Only dates in the previous 28 days or indeed the current date will be allowed to be used in Sentinel.

Will 'grace periods' for Assessments still continue?
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Yes, grace periods are in the current Sentinel system and thus will be implemented in the Sentinel system.

If we have capacity to do our own training programme can these run alongside the Industry Common Induction?
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Yes, but only the Industry Common Induction will be recorded in Sentinel.

Some organisations run competence management on behalf of clients. Will they still be able to do so?
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Yes, they will.

Other than Primary Sponsors is there anyone else who can log that a worker has received mentoring or training with a Sub-sponsor?
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In Sentinel, mentoring will be treated as an event that is completed by Primary Sponsors (for example, 'completion of learning support'). Some events can be entered by trainers/assessor companies depending on what the activity is.

What is SkillsID?
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SkillsID is the industry's new national competence database launched by NSARE in March 2013. It is an online record of an individual's skills, competencies and qualifications.

Who is SkillsID for?
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SkillsID is for ALL railway engineering workers. It is designed to capture the resources available to the whole railway industry, from the newest employee starting out on their journey, through to the Chief Engineer. The whole range of competencies will be available on SkillsID. This includes people working on the infrastructure and on traction and rolling stock. All of an individual's skills, competences and qualifications will be recorded on SkillsID.

Competences will be recorded in both SkillsID and Sentinel. How will this work?
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It is planned that sponsored individuals' competences which are entered into SkillsID will be automatically copied via the data link into Sentinel, if relevant (i.e. related to authority to work only). However this link will not be in place initially, so competence data will also need to be recorded by approved training providers into Sentinel. Once the link is in place this will be the preferred mechanism for data entry, which will become the norm over time, as it will ensure data quality and requires information to be entered only once. Until the link is in place, manual data entry into Sentinel must still be performed by approved providers.

Will Training Providers still be required to take photographs?
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Yes they will still be required to have the capacity to take photos and add them into Sentinel. The need to still carry this out will be reviewed for future phases. Sponsors can also upload photos.

 

Medical Providers

If someone has an incident and passes a D&A can they be temporarily suspended by the Primary Sponsor while investigation is taken?
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Any requests for suspension have to go via Network Rail and if they agree to it then they can be temporarily suspended.

How do pending restrictions work on Sentinel?
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In the new system at the end of the Medical a new on-line certificate will be generated whatever the status. There will no longer be the requirement for Medical Providers to see a risk assessment before issuing a certificate. They will simply indicate within the system if an individual requires a risk assessment. The Primary Sponsor will update Sentinel to state that a risk assessment has been carried out before an individual is allowed to work.

What happens when we need to change a medical status?
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To update a permanent medical status, Medical Providers must create a new online certificate. However, if someone has a temporary status, e.g. a broken arm, then the Primary Sponsor will be able to update the system with a temporary restriction. This will have an end date that is configurable and has reminder alerts. Sub-sponsors will not be able to add temporary restrictions but can inform Primary Sponsors in order to add one.

Will Permanent Medical restrictions be changeable in the new system?
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The information regarding permanent medical restrictions is entered afresh for each new medical check performed. It can be changed at this point of entry by the Medical Provider. Changes will not be possible outside of this process.

 

General

Are we sure that we will bring in this system at a time when people are ready to use it?
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Yes, Sentinel end users are being engaged early in the process to ensure that any specific local issues are being addressed as part of the development and roll out; appropriate training/ briefing will form part of this process.

Sentinel is an enhancement to the current system. Existing means of verification (IVR etc.) will remain, albeit handled by the new system. There will be additional ways to authenticate using Sentinel:

  • Basic Check with almost any Smartphone, simply scanning QR code on Card
  • Full Authentication with PC-connected Card Reader app in office or SAC
  • Full Authentication with Sentinel App using iPhone, scanning QR code (with caching)
  • Full Authentication with Sentinel App using Android Smartphone, either scanning QR code and/or NFC (with data caching).
Will Sentinel be tracking my location using the chip in the card or the GPS in my phone?
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No. The only time a GPS record would be created is in the case of a Lone Worker raising an 'I'm in trouble' alert using their smartphone. Even in these instances, the location information is held in the Mitie Monitoring Centre in Belfast for co-ordination with emergency services.

What will be the network and database availability of the system? Will there be system downtime?
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The system will be available 24/7 for 365 days of the year other than for any period of agreed scheduled downtime for maintenance.