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Train Driver

Becoming a train driver can be a very rewarding career and melds the love of trains with the job of your dreams. In this role you would be expected to perform various functions including; driving the train, operating the doors system, announcements and much more.

What’s the Job?

Driving a train is often performed in weekly turns of about 35 hours dependant on the shifts which can also include weekends, nights and evening turns. However on freight runs this can easily extent to long distance routes where you would swap with another driver and sleep on board. If you are trying to qualify for a NVQ or be allowed to driver a new route then you may have an instructor or inspector on board with you also.


Quite interestingly the potential wage of being a train driver can almost hit the £50,000 mark once a driver is experienced. A trainee train driver would expect an income of around £20,000 per year.

Skills Needed

To operate a train the potential employee doesn’t need a whole lot of qualifications. A decent standard of education including Maths and English are both desired along with any other relevant skills like mechanical or electrical knowledge. Some drivers work from other jobs such as maintenance or station staff and eventually decide to become a driver and request from their employer the chance to obtain the qualification. There is a minimum age to become a train diver on the National Rail network and this is 21 years old. Oddly enough to drive and operate a train on the London Underground, and on depots away from passenger lines, you need to be only 18!

Training and Testing

Off all the skills a train driver should have these are essential:

  • A good reaction time
  • Mechanical knowledge of the train
  • The ability to concentrate at the task in hand
  • Being able to remember information
  • Capable of working within a team of people

Various medical checks are also performed on a regular basis including; drug and alcohol screening, fitness, health and eyesight tests.

Progression is very much encouraged and potential drivers are encouraged to train for sometimes up to 18 months in a cab simulat

Train DriverTrain handlingor and this is to present the driver with all possible eventualities such as; mechanical failure, track side problems, potential dangers and bad weather conditions. Training tends to also include the following:

  • Rules and Regulations
  • System Knowledge
  • Route knowledge


Once you have passed the test you will be qualified to drive the particular route or line you are qualified for. You will receive your Personal Track Safety Certificate or PTS and will need to be assessed on other routes you wish to drive. There are also qualifications you would be required to undertake like the Level 2 (NVQ) Certificate of Rail Services. A successful driver would be assessed continuously by a driving standards manager and provide relevant training as needed throughout the career.

Time Keeping

Jokingly trains are always late but time keeping is also an important asset the driver should have, not only does he or she need to know when to start breaking before a platform, but just being late for work could be a caution in itself. As with other public transport jobs like bus driving, it is imperative to be aware of the job you are performing and do it well.

Useful Facts

There are around 2,500 stations in the UK

The average working hours are 39 hours per week.

It is a very competitive job with a success rate of 300:1.

Other ideas

Other areas of consideration within the business is on the rail operations side. This includes jobs such as; station staff, control room operator and signaller. Within the technical positions one cold consider becoming an engineering, technical manager or track maintainer.

Also there are the lucky few who get to drive a steam powered train and although it is dusty work it is exceptionally satisfying!

Image Credit- Wikimedia

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