Railway Train Driver Careers

How to become a Railway Train Driver

What does a Railway Train Driver do?

Train drivers operate diesel or electric trains. There are strict rules on safety for both passenger and freight trains which drivers need to follow.

Extreme weather can make it difficult to negotiate the track, therefore it is important that the driver is familiar with the route and can anticipate the changes required.

On some trains it is necessary to make announcements to passengers and open and close the doors by remote control.

Drivers need to have a detailed knowledge of their trains; the routes they take; signalling systems; rail safety, and emergency procedures. They write reports about any incidents that occur during their shifts. As such, many choose to take rail transport courses before commencing employment, though this isn't compulsory.

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

Train drivers normally work 35 to 37 hours a week. This could involve shift work including weekends, evenings and nights. Some long distance crews may stay overnight at the end of a run.

The driver usually works alone in the cab for the duration of the journey, except when accompanied by a trainee driver or if a driver leader is on board for an inspection ride.

Uniforms are supplied by the train company.

What does it take to become a Railway Train Driver?

To be a train driver, you should:

  • be able to cope with working alone for long periods
  • have a good memory for details of routes and procedures
  • be able to concentrate and spot changes in the track ahead
  • be able to react quickly, calmly and correctly
  • be able to accept responsibility and work without supervision
  • be physically fit
  • have good eyesight, with or without glasses
  • have normal colour vision.

Railway Train Driver Career Opportunities

There are currently 13 passenger Train Operating Companies (TOCs), a number of freight companies, and underground/light rail/metro companies. Leasing companies also employ drivers. Some TOCs operate routes spanning the country, others are regional or local.

There are now big moves to update the rail service with new faster trains, more freight depots and stations, and other improvements, therefore some companies are actively recruiting drivers.

Promotion will be to driver leader or manager, and into general management. It may be possible to move up from driving light rail and local routes to long distance trains by changing employers.

Generally, there are more opportunities in the more complex, busy networks such as London and the south east of England.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Railway Train Driver that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Concorde House
Trinity Park
B37 7UQ
Tel: 0121 635 5520

GoSkills - Rail
88 Kingsway
Tel: 0845 345 2700

Careers in Rail

Northern Ireland Railways
Human Resources Department
Central Station
East Bridge Street
Tel: 028 9089 9400

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