Rhys Wilkinson

“In rail every problem is slightly different and that makes you think outside the box.”
Male signalling technician standing in front of electrical unit
Male signalling technician standing in front of electrical unit

Signalling Technician, ARTC

Background: Electrician

"I started my electrician's apprenticeship through PEER recruitment doing domestic, residential, commercial work. The usual jobs for an electrician. Then in my fourth year a position came up to be a signalling technician and I went for it.

I live just south of Adelaide and work at the depot in Mile End for ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation).

I like the railways because they offer variety. Every problem is slightly different, and that makes you think outside the box. If you’re doing domestic or commercial work, you’re working on the same three wires.

I do what I describe as “reverse-engineering”. I find the location and extent of the fault, then think logically about how it came to be. Then, ‘Wow!’ I’ve fixed it.

It’s the fault-finding aspect that appeals to me.

It took a while for our team to unravel a problem that occurred near Mallala, north of Adelaide. The electrical system there was “old school”. We combed through 36 kilometres of track before working out the source of the problem. The wiring design was different to the wiring found on other parts of the network. After all that work to find the problem, I had to repair an activation circuit for the timing of signals.

I had a technical mind as a child. Sometimes I would pull apart old telephones to see what was inside, and how it worked.

After my apprenticeship, I gained a Certificate III in electro-technology. Then ARTC put me through the Certificate IV course in rail signalling, giving me dual qualifications.

I’ve been in the role of acting work group leader for eight months. I lead the other signalling maintenance technicians and manage ARTC’s signalling assets.

The railways isn’t for everyone. It’s a very niche area of electrical work that is more mentally draining than physically draining. Many young blokes go off to work on the mines or start travelling. I’m happy to stay here with the railways in Adelaide." 


To learn more about how to become a Rail Signalling Technician check out our training pathways pages.