Train drivers operate diesel or electric trains. There are strict rules
on safety for both passenger and freight trains which drivers need to
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.
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.
To be a train driver, you should:
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
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.
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