Personal Track Safety (PTS)

  • PTS medicals in just 45 minutes
  • Combined medical with drug and alcohol testing can save you time and money
  • Dedicated testing facilities at our nationwide Walk in Centres
  • Able to schedule appointments quickly to meet urgent needs
  • UKAS accredited testing laboratory can test and confirm a wide range of drugs and their metabolites
  • Fast lab confirmations available: next day results if required
  • Full chain of custody procedures ensures sample integrity

Personal Track Safety (PTS) is a system of safer working practices employed within the UK designed to ensure the safety of railway workers who have to work on or near a railway line.

The basic level for track access for Network Rail is the PTS Certificate as defined by the railway safety standards NR/L2/CTM/021. A PTS Certificate is required before anyone is allowed to work on or near the line within Network Rail in the UK.

Medical services

Main hazards of rail working include collisions between a vehicle and a track worker, electrocution from traction power sources, and falls.

A PTS medical assess an individual’s ability to work safely in the track environment.

As such, they are intended to ensure that rail workers are aware of their surroundings so that they do not enter potentially hazardous situations, are able to move around the track area safely, and are able to react appropriately to relevant circumstances (e.g. the approach of a train).

The PTS medical will ensure that potential rail workers do not have any condition or are taking any medication that may lead to sudden incapacity, loss of consciousness, dizziness, impairment (mental or mobility-related), or any hearing or vision issues. Any potential employee must also undergo a drug and alcohol test.

There were 6713 workforce injuries on the rail mainline in 2016–2017 (up 0.5% compared with 2015–2016) of which 164 were major injuries

What does a PTS medical assessment consist of?

A general health questionnaire will focus on any aspects of an individual’s medical history that may have any specific bearing on their ability to operate safely in the track environment (i.e., medication or medical conditions that may be responsible for sudden impairment, a lack of concentration or awareness or compromised mobility). An individual’s eyesight needs testing to ensure there is no visual impairment. Normal colour vision is also tested using the Ishihara Plates test as this is essential for certain tasks undertaken on or near the railway line. Good conversational hearing with no fluctuation in hearing levels is another requirement.

  • Health questionnaire
  • Height
  • Drug and alcohol test
  • Weight
  • Snellen (eye)
  • BMI
  • Ishihara (colour blindness)
  • Blood pressure
  • Audiometry (hearing test)
  • PulseUrinalysis
  • Oxygen saturation

More information on medical assessments can be found on our medical assessment home page.

What happens if the standards aren’t met?

If an individual fails to meet the specific medical standards it is sometimes possible (following a risk assessment, discussion with management and occupational health) to implement a system of formal safe working practices. This is so as not to discriminate unnecessarily against individuals with certain medical problems. For example, individuals with minor medical conditions (such as colour blindness) may still be issued a PTS Certificate, but their PTS card will have a blue circle to inform the Controller of Site Safety (COSS) of the particular condition (see below). Normal colour vision is essential for Signalling, Electrification and Plant & Telecoms apprenticeships; however, it is not essential for basic PTS purposes.

PTS medicals in just 45 minutes

PTS Card

The PTS Card is a smartcard which links to an online database, and provides details of the holder’s competencies and other information, such as their Medical Certificate. The Card enables individuals to legally work on or nearby Network Rail train tracks. The card is issued by Network Rail’s identity card scheme (called Sentinel) and is valid for 5 years. AlphaBiolabs is able to upload results of the PTS medical assessment direct to the Sentinel portal.

Having the PTS Card ensures that you and those working alongside you have completed the necessary safety training, are medically fit and have passed a drugs and alcohol test. Individuals who have only recently got their PTS Certificate will have a green square on their card to indicate their ‘new’ status, as well as a blue hard hat instead of the usual white hard hat. In addition, individuals with minor medical conditions (such as colour blindness) may have a blue circle on their PTS card to inform the Controller of Site Safety (COSS) of their particular condition.

Drug and alcohol testing

Network Rail operates a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and alcohol. A fail on a drugs and alcohol test may result in an individual’s PTS Certificate being cancelled for 5 years, their PTS card being cancelled and being subjected to a disciplinary procedure.

Alcohol testing

Our sample collectors will use a breathalyser to test for alcohol in the breath. The person being tested blows into the device, and the results are given as a digital readout. The readout is a number, known as the breath alcohol concentration (BAC), which shows the level of alcohol in the breath at the time the test was taken.

Drug testing

A urine test is used to determine whether someone is misusing drugs by taking a sample of their urine and analysing it for particular substances. All samples are sent back to the laboratory for analysis to determine whether any drugs have been taken, and if so, exactly what substance was taken and in what quantities. Urine drug testing’s period of detection is approximately 4 days, although this can depend on the particular substance taken. If necessary, further testing services can be undertaken, such as hair strand tests, to establish a history of drug use.

For further information or to order a Personal Track Safety medical assessment please call 0333 600 1300 or email

More information on PTS medicals can be found on our medical assessment homepage

For further information or to order an assessment please call 0333 600 1300 or email

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