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How to become a Railway Train Guard

Find out the requirements to be a Railway Train Guard

What does a Railway Train Guard do?

Railway train guards may also be known as conductors, customer service inspectors or train managers. Their work routines vary between long distance, local/suburban, and metro/light rail trains. It is not now common for guards to be placed on freight trains.

The main task of guards is to walk through the carriages checking, clipping and selling tickets. They also answer passengers' questions and give advice on arrival times, connections and routes. They may also have to carry out safety and customer comfort checks prior to the start of a train journey.

Guards make announcements to passengers and may also be responsible for opening and closing the train doors via remote control. In addition, train guards ensure that passengers get on or off the train safely and will take necessary action if anyone falls ill or there is an accident.

A guard on a freight train would inspect the load for safety and security. Both drivers and guards have to make written reports of any unusual event occurring during each freight train journey.

What's the working environment like working as a Railway Train Guard?

Train guards normally work 37 hours a week. Working shifts and overtime is common; this could include weekends, evenings and nights. Guards on long distance journeys may be required to stay overnight at the end of a journey.

A guard’s base on a train may be a small compartment from which they can signal and talk to the driver, make announcements, and apply the emergency brake.

Train guards wear a uniform supplied by the employer.

What does it take to become a Railway Train Guard?

To be a train guard, you should:
  • have a pleasant manner and smart appearance
  • have a good memory for regulations, safety procedures, fares and schedules
  • have some knowledge of railway geography
  • have good communication skills for talking to passengers
  • have a clear speaking voice for making passenger announcements
  • be able to accept responsibility and work without supervision
  • be able to handle pressure and react in a calm, reassuring manner
  • be able to deal appropriately with difficult and angry passengers
  • have good numeracy skills for handling cash and change
  • have good eyesight, with or without glasses
  • have normal colour vision.

Railway Train Guard Career Opportunities

There are opportunities for employment with the 13 passenger Train Operating Companies (TOCs), a number of freight companies, and underground/light rail/metro companies. Some TOCs operate routes spanning the country - others operate at regional or local levels.

As a train guard, you may be able to gain more responsibility by moving from light rail and local routes to long distance trains or by changing employers.

Job opportunities are regularly available on some routes but are reducing elsewhere due to the trend towards driver-only trains, especially on light rail systems. Guards are often considered as potential candidates for trainee driver vacancies. Guards may also move to revenue protection inspector or in to management roles.

There are more opportunities available in complex, busy networks such as London and the south-east of England.

Further Career Information

If you would like to know more about a career as an Railway Train Guard related facts, statistics, articles and websites.

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