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Railway Train Driver Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Railway Train Driver. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Railway Train Driver
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Railway Train Driver Work Information

    Finding Suitable Work

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    Working Duties Expected

    Train drivers operate diesel or electric trains. There are strict rules on safety for both passenger and freight trains. The safety of rail passengers is critical and there is a strict policy on drug and alcohol abuse. Random tests may be conducted at any time.

    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.

    Hours and Environment:

    Train drivers normally work a 37-hours. This could involve shiftwork 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.

    Skills and Interests:

    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.


    Most companies require drivers to be aged over 21. There are no specific entry requirements, although most employers will expect candidates to have a good general standard of education and be literate and numerate.

    You may be required to sit tests which measure levels of aptitude and concentration, attention to detail, and memory. Potential drivers must sit written and practical driver assessment tests, possibly on a computer or simulator.

    New entrants will be required to pass a medical examination to test fitness levels, eyesight, colour vision and hearing. There is a rigid policy on drug and alcohol abuse. Random alcohol and drug tests can be conducted at any time.

    Some companies will not employ individuals who have visible tattoos or body-piercings.

    Most Train Operating Companies (TOCs) look for experienced train drivers or select suitable people from among their existing guards and station staff for training. Some TOCs have an upper age of 45 for drivers. Health checks become more frequent with age. See the Centre for Rail Skills website for TOC contact details.

    Some entrants progress from driving light rail and local routes to long distance trains by changing employers.


    Driver training may last up to a year. In a training centre, you will learn safe working practices, rules and regulations, knowledge of train types, ticket prices and routes, and first aid. The next stage involves a train driving instructor tutoring you on how to drive trains, followed by route learning alongside an experienced driver.

    Both during and after training, drivers may work towards the NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Rail Transport Operations (Driving). There is also an NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Rail Transport Operations (Shunting).


    There are currently 23 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.

    Annual Income:

    Figures are intended as a guideline only.

    New entrant drivers are paid around £13,500 while training.
    On completing training, pay is £24,000 rising to £27,000 after two years.
    Some experienced drivers earn over £30,000.

    Free or reduced price travel is usually offered as an extra benefit.

    Further information:

    Centre for Rail Skills *
    PO Box 39685
    W2 1XR
    Tel: 0845 345 2700

    Network Rail
    40 Melton Street
    NW1 2EE
    Tel: 020 7557 8000

    Northern Ireland Railways
    Human Resources Department
    Central Station
    East Bridge Street
    BT1 3PB
    Tel: 028 9089 9400

    National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

    The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

  • Other Useful Railway Train Driver Work Information

    We have a section available at this site on Railway Train Driver job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

    Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
    Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

    Details of other Railway Train Driver Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
    Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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